Indholdet på denne side vedrører regeringen Poul Nyrup Rasmussen IV (1998-2001)

The Prime Minister's speech at Global Employment Forum in Genève, 1 November 2001

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, Mr. Director-General, José Juan Somavia, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all I want to express my happiness and my sincere congratulations on the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize given to the United Nations, and not least to you, Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Your personal capacity and your inspiration – so strong an inspiration to all of us because the most easy thing to do in the world today is to lose the hope, to lose the engagement, to lose the belief that one can change for the better. You inspire us all to continue to believe that we can make a difference if we tackle problems in another way than we have been used to, if we never, never, never accept that fear should be a permanent part of our living conditions.

That brings me to 11 September, almost two months ago. The world entered into a new era. The terrorist attack and the subsequent fight against terrorism led by the United States and backed by all civilized societies in the global alliance have made two fundamental things clear: first of all, there is a need now more than ever for broad international cooperation in all areas; secondly, the fight against terrorism does not stop when Bin Laden and his supporters in Afghanistan have been brought to justice. To bring these persons to justice is an important and justified task. At the same time, it will only be a start, a start in a long-term fight against terrorism and the root causes of terrorism.

What we are dealing with here is very much attached to what happened on 11 September. It is important that we, as we do today, stick to the importance of creating a better, more equal and just world. In this respect striving to create a decent working life for all of us is an essential element. Our working life is a very substantial part of our life and how are we going to be able to achieve this noble goal? Well, I have the following suggestions.

First and foremost I think it is fair to say that economic growth and prosperity are the best starting points for such a development. Being in Geneva, right here, I wish to stress my strong hope that we will see the WTO member countries launching a new trade round at the upcoming ministerial meeting and I want to say to all the representatives of the developing countries here today: We will not break out. We from the richer part of the world will not try to avoid to give concessions. We will not make new suggestions which will create new difficulties to obtain agreements. We are decisive to open our markets to your products because we think that this is a fundamental condition for developing countries to obtain higher economic growth rates and thereby a basis for better employment. I really assure you that the European Union and the northern part of Europe, including my own Government, will do our utmost to contribute to this goal. When we meet in Qatar, in Doha, we should take the first steps. To all of you, we know what we should not do. We have seen that. We know what we shall do and let us join forces in Doha and take the first steps. We owe that to the world. We owe decent work to all people.

At the same time I want to strive to achieve a more equal and just world. My Government is working hard in order to obtain agreement on a new Global Deal at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg next year in September. I hope that we can join our efforts: partners in the social areas and labour markets; governments, under the leadership of the United Nations. The Secretary-General and I this morning confirmed this ambition. This Global Deal which will include not only economic development but also social development and environmental development should be our next response to 11 September and our response also to those poor people who are asking us: Do we really want to make “the working poor choice” or can we ever hope to make “the working rich choice”, combined with not only having jobs, but also having jobs which include better education and better fundamental living conditions? The answer should certainly be, yes, we will work on the working rich strategy and not the working poor strategy.

The Director-General was so kind to refer to the Social Summit meeting in Copenhagen six years ago at today’s Conference. At the Social Summit in Copenhagen we stressed that employment is fundamental in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. In the developing countries, as it was said, a little more than 500 million people are working in order to secure a minimum income to provide for the 1.2 billion people who live for less than 1$ a day. These horrifying figures are telling about a very divided world. The industrialized countries certainly need to do more to reduce these numbers and I want just to give my little contribution to a shared vision on how we can proceed. Enormous differences - actually what can we do?

I think it is fundamental to understand that employment is fundamental in the fight against exclusion. In my little country we have a long experience which tells us that the forces which create richness are not what we found – of oil and gold and coal in the underground. But the fundamental value in our society is human beings. If one asked: What is the secret, that my country is among the richest in the world, a so-called welfare country? The answer is that we from the beginning insisted that each and every individual counts and that each and every individual human being can do something and that each and every individual human being should have an education. And we have done so. And when we can do so, you can do so. It is a question of unifying now, investing now, making concrete goals on education and job creation. It is not impossible. We can do it and we should decide it.

The two key words in my strategy in my country are globalisation and values – globalisation is a fact of life, values are not. Values are in a sense more interesting, because we have greater possibility of influencing them. Let me underline this point. We as leaders must put up clear goals for the values we want to guide our individual countries in the global community. Market economy, yes, is fundamental for economic growth, fundamental for our welfare. But market economy without guiding lines, without governments, without human face, no. It is the very combination of market economy and political governance together with the social partners which creates the human face and the market economy in a new combination which is so necessary for the future.

More politics, not less politics, more international agreements, not fewer international agreements. More and closer cooperation with the social partners and governments, not less. More strengthening of the ILO, not less strengthening of the ILO. This is what I see and this is what in my view has been confirmed through experience in my own country. Equal opportunities for all in education, work, health care, participation in cultural life and securing a clean environment have been good contributions to a harmonious development in my country. Social security which provides the fundamental needs for a person if he or she is laid off or struck by diseases or accident is another one. Formulated in the way there are no rights without obligations, nor obligations without rights. Ensuring that social security and high competitiveness are not contradictions but preconditions. That a mobile labour market is fundamental for social security and vice versa. Our experiment shows, in other words, in my part of the world, that what we have to formulate for the future is also social security because if you are secure on a social basis you dare to take new decisions, you dare to change jobs, you dare to try new things in your educational life. The worst thing which could happen in a new economy is that you do not dare to take a new chance. To take new chances would be easier if it is based on social security.

All in all, the Danish experience is based on two simple fundamental factors. One is: Individual human beings make the difference. It is the best investment you can make in your society. Secondly: Cooperation and a harmonious mutual recognition on the labour market is the next fundamental thing and, thirdly and foremost: A society where social security and future education is the basis.

What I say is that the theme you have made in the ILO on decent work is more important than it has ever been. We have, in my country, this year started a very constructive cooperation based on the decent work concept. I warmly welcome that the ILO has now taken up this challenge. It is important and fundamental. But this requires a basic understanding among political decision-makers, also you who are here today. We must secure social dialogue, social protection, employment policy, and the respect for fundamental workers’ rights. These four pillars make the fundamental for our cooperation in the future.

All in all, put people in the centre as the Secretary-General of the United Nations has said. So far, we have made the first steps today and so far I can tell you, Director-General, that my Government, myself personally, will be together with you during all the years ahead. Thirty years ago, as a young economist, I came here for the first time, sitting down there at the back row, listening to what was said at that time, wondering is that really possible to make progress in the ILO. Sceptical about all the meetings, about the few conclusions and unclear conclusions. And one could easily get the conclusion for oneself: What are we here for? Is it at all useful? Shouldn’t we spend our time on something better? Making election campaign in my country for instance?

But I am here because that is what makes political life valuable. You should be at places where you can make a difference and you can all make a difference today, together with the Director-General, the President and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. That is what makes life worthwhile, to make a difference. I wish you all a good conference.

Thank you very much.