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Friday, February 21, 2014

Made rich, made poor by war: World Social Justice Day 2014

ILO without mentioning war, divided humanity sees “Recovery” without work
Editing, commentary by Carolyn Bennett

Copenhagen, Denmark, 1995 hosted the World Summit for Social Development. In the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’ more than 100 political leaders pledged to make these their overriding objectives: the conquest of poverty and full employment; stable, safe, and just societies; and to put people at the center of development plans.

But the West (NATO) was at war then.
It still is at war. Nevertheless, in its 2014 global employment report the International Labour Organization (ILO) never once mentions war or conflict even as the text of the report makes clear that the people suffering most are those in zones where the Western world is engaged in endless provocation, war and protracted conflict.

MENA: Middle East and North Africa

The ILO reports, “Youth unemployment in MENA countries remains the highest in the world” (2013 percentages):

27.2 percent in the Middle East;
More than 29 percent in North Africa

More than twice the global average: e.g., youth unemployment
Morocco 19 percent
Algeria and Lebanon over 22 percent
Egypt 25 percent
Jordan and Saudi Arabia closer to 30 percent
Occupied Palestinian Territory around 40 percent
 Tunisia over 42 percent

“In many MENA countries, educational attainment actually increases the risk of joblessness, e.g., unemployment rates for those with tertiary (higher or post-secondary) education

Saudi Arabia over 43 percent
Occupied Palestinian Territory 24 percent
United Arab Emirates and in Morocco 22 percent
Tunisia 14 percent
Algeria over 11 percent

“…Education systems in other countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, struggle to deliver graduates with the necessary skills for finding productive jobs. Overall many young people in the (MENA) region are both overqualified and under-qualified for available positions compared to countries in other regions at similar levels of development.

Sub-Saharan Africa
In Lebanon 38 percent of surveyed firms showed labour skill levels “to be one of the key constraints”; and the same finding in the Syrian Arab Republic 36 percent; in Jordan 33 percent; in Egypt 31 percent. [Ref. World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys]

The region of Sub-Saharan Africa, also affected by wars and conflict, foreign exploitation and plunder and internal corruption, is even worse off in terms of education, opportunity, and advancement and infrastructural development than the MENA region. Though “some progress has been made in reducing the proportion of people living in poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa,” the report says, this region “has seen a steady rise in the absolute number of extremely poor people.”

Conflict, Forced Migration, Enforced Inequality

“Skills mismatches in most MENA countries are worsened because the educational systems are characterized by significant inequalities. Students coming from a disadvantaged background have less chance of completing their primary education. They also have a lower probability of gaining access to better quality education. Therefore, they will be less able to access university educations.

“This inequality is aggravated by the rapid decline in public investment in education. The unequal distribution and – on average – inadequate quality of education reduce the returns that many people receive from their education and prevent the region from benefiting from the large overall investment they make in education. At the same time, the fact that only a few possess the skills actually required by local businesses creates substantial wage premiums, such as may be earned, for instance, by returning migrants in Egypt, who are often perceived as being more adequately educated.”

At war in MENA, U.S. feeds 1 percent, neglects 99 percent

“The rise in corporate profits and inexpensive borrowing did not spark an investment boom in the real economy. Rather, companies have decided to pay larger and larger dividends to their shareholders. …Taking advantage of ultra-low interest rates to buy back shares and increasing dividend payments to shareholders alongside persistently weak hiring [is] seen as a choice to invest an increasing proportion of available corporate funds into financial capital, as opposed to into physical capital or into expanding the workforce. In the United States these trends have further worsened income inequality.

“Between 2009 and 2012 in the United States, average family incomes of the top 1 percent of households grew by 31.4 percent while the incomes of the bottom 99 per cent of households grew by only 0.4 percent.” Accordingly, “the top 1 percent in the United States captured 95 percent of aggregate income gains in the first two years of the recovery” [Ref. Saez (2013)].

ILO Report concludes

June 2009 was in the midst of the sharpest downturn in global economic activity since the Great Depression of the 1930s and “[f]our and a half years later… the global labour market remains deeply scarred by this crisis. … [R]ecent years have seen a tendency towards aggressive fiscal consolidation and overreliance on expansionary monetary policy, with far less international coordination. Not surprisingly, the economic recovery has weakened, and many labour markets remain deeply distressed. Inequality continues to increase in many parts of the world.”
World Day of Social Justice?

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said some nice words this week as he always does on such commemorative occasions. “Social justice is more than an ethical imperative,” he said, “it is a foundation for national stability and global prosperity. Equal opportunity, solidarity and respect for human rights – these are essential to unlocking the full productive potential of nations and peoples.” But does the few super rich who are also at war with the world want the world’s peoples to realize their potential? I don’t think they do.

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia also reportedly expressed some nice words. “Achieving a fair globalization,” he said, “calls for a new vision of society and economy, with a balanced approach to the role of state, markets and society and a clear understanding of the possibilities and limitations of individual action in that framework. Action must go beyond simply recovering growth – we will not get out of the crisis with the same policies that led to it. We need to move toward a new era of social justice.”

ice words all round but you cannot speak seriously of justice without talking about the violence that is being perpetrated endlessly on the world by powers who traffic arms, promote conflict, engage in war, corrupt leaders, constantly intimidate citizens, deny their advancement and force them from their homes, further impoverishing them and their homelands.

Last month in issuing the report “Humanity divided,” Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said, “It is only through the action and voices of many that we will be able to curb one of the greatest moral and practical challenges of our times: the quest for equality, shared prosperity, and human well-being.”

All these years and we are still questing. Why is that? Because those in inordinate power have a vested interest in maintaining this unconscionable state of inequality, that's why. 

Sources and notes

“GLOBAL EMPLOYMENT TRENDS 2014: Risk of a Jobless Recovery” International Labour Organization report
Copyright © International Labour Organization 2014
First published 2014
Publications of the International Labour Office enjoy copyright under Protocol 2 of the Universal Copyright Convention. Nevertheless, short excerpts from them may be reproduced without authorization, on condition that the source is indicated. For rights of reproduction or translation, application should be made to ILO Publications (Rights and Permissions), International Labour Office, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland, or by email: pubdroit@ilo.org. The International Labour Office welcomes such applications.
Libraries, institutions and other users registered with reproduction rights organizations may make copies in accordance with the licences issued to them for this purpose. Visit www.ifrro.org to find the reproduction rights organization in your country.


World day of Social Justice 2014, http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/who-we-are/ilo-director-general/statements-and-speeches/WCMS_235779/lang--en/index.htm
ILO Director-General: 'We are faced with a deep social crisis, a crisis too of social justice'

As the world marks the Day of Social Justice, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder urges 'policy-makers to converge on the ambition of a real global socio-economic recovery – a recovery for all – and a Post-2015 Development Agenda that helps lift all out of poverty.'

February 20: World Day of Social Justice
World Day of Social Justice Observances,

Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1995 hosted the World Summit for Social Development out of which emerged “the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.” More than 100 political leaders pledged to make the conquest of poverty and full employment, as well as stable, safe and just societies, their overriding objectives. They also agreed on the need to put people at the center of development plans.

On November 26, 2007, the UN General Assembly named February 20 as the annual World Day of Social Justice, scheduled for its first observance in 2009.
See also

“Warning of ‘humanity divided,’ UN urges job creation, inclusive growth strategies” http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47039&Cr=inequality&Cr1=#.Uwe8-2JdV7I

January 29, 2014 – Raising the alarm against deepening income disparities in countries around the world, the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) called for a shift to more inclusive growth patterns – supported by redistributive polices and changes in social norms.… “‘Inequalities on today’s levels are unjust… and they also impede human progress,’” Helen Clark said in releasing the agency’s new report ‘Humanity Divided: Confronting Inequality in Developing Countries’ that reveals income inequality increased by 11 percent in developing countries over the decades 1990-2010.


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