Press Release

ILO Director-General Houngbo warns that multiple crises could jeopardize recent advances in the world of work

Published On: Jun 06, 2024

GENEVA (ILO News) – The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Gilbert F. Houngbo, opened the 112th International Labour Conference (ILC) expressing a feeling of “ambivalence” at the current state of the world of work.

“All regions, to varying degrees, have returned to the level of economic activity seen in the pre-pandemic period. Effective action by central banks to curb inflation has also contributed to this positive development... This could, I very much hope, provide some relief for the recently battered purchasing power of workers,” said Houngbo during his opening speech.

Houngbo recalled that ILO projections indicate a global unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent for both 2024 and 2025, marking a modest decrease from the 5 per cent recorded in 2023.

However, he warned that, “crises that keep coming one after the other,” could jeopardize these “positive and encouraging advances.”

“At the same time… the sources of tension have intensified. The appalling situation in the Middle East has added to the existing crises. The shocking conflicts in Gaza, Yemen, Sudan, Haiti, Ukraine and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name but a few, remain major issues for humanity and, more particularly, for multilateralism,” he added.

Presenting his report, Towards a Renewed Social Contract, the Director-General said, “the report does not impose preconceived ideas but aims to stimulate a productive and fruitful debate” about “making social justice the foundation of lasting peace, shared prosperity, equal opportunities, and a just transition.”



The ILO annual conference brings together worker, employer, and government delegates from the ILO’s 187 Member States to address a wide range of issues that have a long-term impact on the world of work. The agenda includes:

  • a discussion on protection against biological hazards (first discussion out of the two foreseen in the ILO’s standard-setting procedure), which could lead to the adoption of an international labour standard on the subject at next year’s ILC.
  • a discussion on the strategic objective of fundamental principles and rights at work.
  • a discussion on decent work and the care economy.

The inaugural Forum of the Global Coalition for Social Justice will take place on 13 June. Supported by 280 partners, including 68 governments, the forum will highlight the concrete collaborative efforts in favour of social justice made since the 111th Session of the International Labour Conference in June last year.

The first day of the Conference saw Alexei Buzu, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Moldova, elected President of the Conference. The Conference also elected as Vice-Presidents July Moyo, Minister for Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe (Governments), Rajeev Dubey (Employers) from India and Béatrice Lestic (Workers) from France.

The opening session also included a keynote speech by economist Jayati Gosh, who spoke on the 80th anniversary of the ILO’s Declaration of Philadelphia.

“Much like in 1944, we are currently experiencing a period of flux, within countries and in the international economy. Instead of thinking of how public policies and social processes can help the economy, we need to ask how the economy can serve society and be in harmony with nature and the planet,” Dr Gosh explained.

The 112th International Labour Conference, which is being held in Geneva, runs until the 14th of June.