Business & UN

ICC address to UNGA high-level plenary on “The Future of Work”

  • 12 April 2019
International Chamber of Commerce Permanent Observer to the United Nations Andrew Wilson addresses the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the centenary of the International Labour Organization.

ICC Permanent Observer to the United Nations Andrew Wilson addresses the UN General Assembly on the occasion of the centenary of the International Labour Organization.

High-level plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on “The Future of Work”

Thank you, Madam President. It is my honour to address you on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). ICC is the world’s largest business organisation with over 45 million members, employing more than 1.2 billion workers around the world.

ICC and the ILO were created the same year, both institutions reflections of a world that called for decisive action from all stakeholders to forge a positive path for development in the face of vast challenges and uncertainties. It is therefore with great joy that we celebrate the major advances that our sister organisation made in establishing global standards that respond squarely to the universal human aspiration for decent work. ICC reiterates its commitment to supporting the work of the ILO in the next 100 years as it tackles new and unprecedented challenges in a rapidly changing world.

Madam President, while the title of this debate is “the future of work”, the common objective to “leave no one behind” requires that we also use this landmark event to recognise outstanding commitments and obstacles that persist in the attainment of decent work for all. One such challenge is the scourge of modern slavery.

Far from being a vestige of history, the number of people living in slavery today is higher than at any other time in recorded history. At least 40 million people currently find themselves trapped in slavery, some 16 million of which are in corporate supply chains—in every country and in every industry. Though slavery is now universally prohibited, with protections for individual rights enshrined in national and international laws, it continues to persist.

Earlier this year, we made a pledge to ensure that every CEO in the ICC network understands modern slavery risks and knows how to take action, but governments must also step-up to this challenge. In this regard, we urge Member States to mark the centenary of the ILO by signing and ratifying the 2014 Protocol to the 1930 Forced Labour Convention to provide protection and appropriate remedies to victims of forced labour and to sanction the perpetrators of slavery. Where adoption of the Protocol is not possible, we urge States to develop modern national policies and plans of action for the effective suppression contemporary forms of slavery.

Madam President, we would also like to underscore the need for concerted action to ensure that women are able to claim their rightful role in the economy. The advances made in the integration of women in the workforce have been significant, but we must speed the removal of barriers that stand in the way of full women’s economic empowerment. Unlocking the vast economic potential of women in the global economy will be essential if we are to meet the vision of the 2030 Agenda. We call on all governments to utilise the policy levers readily available to them to achieve this goal without delay.

There can be no excuse for inaction.

Finally, we wish to thank Madam President and Member States for the opportunity given to business and other non-Party stakeholders to engage in this conversation. We firmly believe that inclusive multilateralism and meaningful partnerships are necessary to achieve our shared sustainable development goals.

Thank you.

Watch the plenary here