OECD DAC SLM: Trade unions ask donors to match development cooperation responses to the scope of current global challenges

Trade unions participated in the OECD DAC Senior Level Meeting that took place on 18–19 January and reminded DAC members of the need for strong policy responses that will contribute to a New Social Contract centred on SDG 8.

This meeting of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD DAC) was dedicated to discussing key development cooperation priorities, including Covid-19 recovery and access to vaccines, and the DAC’s engagement with other development cooperation stakeholders.

During the session on the Covid-19 pandemic and access to vaccines, DAC members called for policy coherence and informed about their vaccine donations and contributions. They also emphasised the importance of reinforcing health systems and supporting local production of vaccines and treatments as well as the need to enhance local capacities for vaccine roll out.

Owen Tudor, Deputy General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), stressed unions’ support for an immediate waiver for intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, as well as the importance of sharing technology and knowledge to fight the virus. He further stressed the need for adequate investments in setting up regional vaccine hubs and strengthening the health systems of developing countries. He also warned that counting donations of excess vaccines from providers’ domestic supply as official development assistance (ODA) could come at the cost of diminishing other aid funds.

Tudor added that ODA should be efficiently used to build up sustainable means to recover from the ongoing Covid-crisis through the promotion of a New Social Contract centred on SDG 8. Unions advocate for ODA to be invested in creating decent and climate friendly jobs, formalising informal jobs, fostering equality and inclusion, and supporting social protection systems, which – he reminded – is the most cost-effective contribution to recovery and resilience. All of these measures would contribute positively to redressing the widening global inequality gap that the world has been experiencing in the last decades and that Covid-19 has exacerbated:

It is obscene that the wealth of the 10 richest individuals has doubled during the pandemic. We must go much further than the recent OECD agreement on minimum corporate taxation to prevent inequality becoming as much of an existential threat as climate change,” he twitted after his intervention.

He seized the opportunity to renew unions’ call for the DAC to support a global social protection fund to build up social protection in the least developed countries:

Social protection is not available to enough, but is the most cost effective contribution to recovery & resilience. DAC members should back a Global Social Protection Fund & raise ODA to at least the 0.7% target,” Tudor posted in another tweet.

During the session on working with other development actors, DAC members highlighted the value of working with other development cooperation donors beyond the DAC and promoting norms, standards, rules, transparency and accountability. They insisted on the importance of engaging with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), lauded the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance and raised concerns around current trends on shrinking civic space.

In this session, Tudor advocated for the continued engagement of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) with the DAC, including in the yearly Trade Union – DAC Forum, which is the space for both organisations to discuss their respective priorities in development cooperation and explore joint areas of work.

He also reminded DAC members of TUAC and the ITUC’s active support and contribution to the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance, and assured them that trade unions are strongly committed to engaging in its implementation as part of their initiatives to advocate for freedom of association and the right to organise.

Before concluding, Tudor reflected on theILO’s findings that social dialogue was used in responses to the pandemic in 134 of the World’s 188 countries and territories, and asked DAC members to promote and support the role of social dialogue in development cooperation.

Read the Trade Union Statement on the OECD DAC SLM

Trade union statement on the OECD DAC SLM of 18-19 January 2022