CAIRO: The 46th Arab Labor Conference kicked off on Sunday in Cairo, with calls for dialogue and cooperation in tackling socio-political, security, unemployment and other pressing concerns in the region.
The opening ceremony was attended by numerous ambassadors; heads and members of delegations of employers’ organizations, labor unions and professional associations; and representatives of production bodies from Arab countries. Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi heads Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the conference, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
In his opening speech Lebanese Minister of Labor Kamil Chaker Abu Sleiman, the president of the conference, said: “This conference is being held in light of political and social events that present challenges for us, requiring joint Arab cooperation to overcome them with serious dialogue between the social partners."
“These challenges require taking the initiative and utilizing resources to address them and achieve balanced relations that serve Arab interests within a comprehensive vision that protects the rights of all parties,” he was quoted by the SPA as saying.
Abu Sleiman pointed out that the items on the conference agenda are crucial for Arab states’ efforts to eliminate unemployment, among other issues.
He stressed that dialogue is the only way to achieve sustainable development in the Arab world, develop labor relations, and provide universal social protection.
Egyptian Minister of Manpower Mohamed Saffan delivered a speech on behalf of the conference sponsor, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Saffan said: “The availability of safety and security, which are essential elements for achieving development and creating a secure environment, help us build, work hard, and be productive.”
He continued: “Egypt is in a full-scale battle against terrorism, which targets the security of the Arab (world) and is supported by foreign powers that seek to undermine the security of the Arab people and disrupt (our) development.
“Egypt’s war on terror has not interfered with the initiatives taken by the government to achieve inclusive development in line with the objectives clearly defined in Egypt's Vision 2030,” Saffan continued. “This vision covers all economic, social, and environmental elements through the implementation of mega-projects, building new cities according to the latest models and global standards, and taking bold steps toward economic reform to provide an investment-friendly environment, thus creating more jobs.”
He stressed his country's support for joint Arab action, as well as its support in all international forums for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Egypt, he said, condemns the practices of the Israeli Occupation against the people of Palestine in general, and particularly Palestinian workers.
The most notable item on the conference agenda is the report of the Director General of the Arab Labor Office “Labor Relations and the Requirements of Sustainable Development.” The meeting will also explore the role the ‘Blue Economy’ — related to the preservation of the marine environment — can play in creating opportunities for employment; along with how technology is helping people with disabilities find jobs.
Several Arab entrepreneurs will be honored at the conference, and a new director general will be appointed for a four-year term, while the formation of the Committee of Legal Experts, who will serve a three-year term, will also be announced.