Press Release

ILO Director-General calls for national momentum to achieve social justice in Iraq

29 April 2024

During a two-day visit, ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo held talks with Iraq’s President, Prime Minister, senior Iraqi officials, social partners and youth representatives on advancing social justice and ensuring decent work in Iraq.

BAGHDAD (ILO News) – ILO Director-General, Gilbert F. Houngbo, has concluded his first official visit to Iraq, during which he praised the country for transitioning from a focus on emergency relief response to stabilization and development, while calling for continued advancement towards greater social justice, growth of decent jobs and protection of workers in the country. 

During his visit, on 27-28 April, during which he was accompanied by the ILO Regional Director for Arab States, Ruba Jaradat, and other senior ILO officials, the Director-General discussed progress made through the ILO’s work in the country with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani, and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Ahmed Jassem Saber Al-Asadi. The meetings also explored possibilities for further cooperation to accelerate decent work and economic growth in the country. 

Houngbo also met the ILO’s social partners in Iraq, including representatives from the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW), the Conference of Iraqi Federations and Workers Unions (CIFWU) and the Iraqi Council Union (ICU), as well as employers’ representatives from the Iraqi Federation of Industries (IFI). The discussions focused on strengthening freedom of association and fostering tripartite social dialogue for better protection of workers’ rights in Iraq. 

The Director-General held further talks with UN Resident Coordinator, Ghulam Mohammad Isaczai, and members of the UN Iraq country team, on forming close partnerships between the ILO and UN agencies on the ground, as part of the UN’s wider goal of 'delivering as one' in Iraq.

“I commend Iraq for the progress made in the past years, which has paved the way for a sustained transition to stabilization and development, decent work and more constructive relations between workers, employers and the state, based on social justice for all in the country,” Director-General Houngbo said during his visit.

The ILO and the Government of Iraq launched the country’s first four-year Decent Work Country Programme in 2019. They have also worked together to support private sector development and job creation, strengthen social protection, address child labour, and enhance labour governance and social dialogue.
“The ILO is committed to continuing our technical support to Iraq, and to working together in close partnership, towards the promotion of inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment and social protection for all,” ILO Regional Director for the Arab States, Ruba Jaradat, explained.

The ILO Director-General also met Iraqi youth representatives to hear their views on how their country can create more and better jobs. “Addressing challenges that young people face in the world of work is one of the ILO's priorities,” Houngbo said. “This is especially crucial in a country like Iraq where more than a third of the youth are unemployed. Young people need to be engaged as agents of change, and we must do all that we can to include them in spaces where critical decisions on the future of work are being made”.

Houngbo also praised Iraq for being the first country in the Arab States region to join the Global Coalition for Social Justice, highlighting the country’s focus on the social dimensions of sustainable development and economic growth. He also expressed his appreciation for the country’s commitment to ratification and implementation of ILO’s International Labour Standards.
The ILO Director-General also attended the 50th Session of the Arab Labour Conference, held in Baghdad, where he delivered a keynote address and met Arab Labour Organization Director-General, Fayez Al Mutairi, and worker, employer, and government representatives from across the Arab States region. 
Iraq’s implementation of it’s Decent Work Country Programme has led to an extensive range of world of work-related developments. These include the Ratifications of the ILO Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) and the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006), thus aligning the related national standards with international labour standards. Other reforms include the adoption of a new national Social Security and Pension Law (No 18 of 2023) that expanded social security coverage to all private sector workers, including in the informal economy, and the endorsement of the Iraq National Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Inequalities in the World of Work for the Years 2024-2028.
The ILO and its tripartite constituents are currently engaged in developing the second Decent Work Country Programme for 2025-2029, to support Iraq’s continuing progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8, on Decent Work and Economic Growth.



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