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Putting social justice on the global agenda | Josef Bugeja

Our Maltese experience through the ages has taught us how leveraging the power of social dialogue and tripartism has been an effective means to advance social justice sustainably. We are eager to contribute to this endeavour.

The Global Coalition for Social Justice gained momentum with ILO Governing Body’s endorsement on 9 November 2023.

This mission has now been formalised by the creation of the ILO’s Global Coalition for Social Justice, a platform of multilateral cooperation that can help stakeholders advance social justice and decent work for everyone, through policy coherence.

Building on 100 years of the ILO’s experience in mobilising tripartism and social dialogue, the future target is the recognition of social justice in the multilateral agenda, in particular at the UN Summit of the Future in 2024 and the proposed UN World Social Summit in 2025.

It is with great enthusiasm that the GWU is now Malta’s first organisation to formally endorse the Global Coalition for Social Justice, with its participation.

This timely initiative by ILO Secretary-General Gilbert Huongo, comes at a time when, as we look back at the last decades of globalisation’s great ramping-up, we are witnessing corporations and governments hollow out social protection through the pursuit of austerity measures, authoritarian politics, and right-wing policies that undermine people’s dignity.

But it is only through social justice that we can make societies and economies function more cohesively and productively, by actively reducing poverty, hunger, inequalities and social tensions.

As defined by the ILO Constitution, a “socially just society” is one where all human beings “have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity”.

Now it is time to mainstream this vision, with a global coalition that broadens this ambition as a cornerstone of renewed multilateralism, and which supports national efforts by turning political commitments into effective action.

To the GWU, this Coalition is key to tackling increasing global inequality and insecurity, factors that can also undermine democracy and erode trust in governments. Nobody should underestimate the political upheavals that come when governments abandon the need to secure decent jobs, workers’ rights, universal social protection for all, fair wages, equality and inclusion. The GWU is mindful of this mission and it remains a guardian against all threats to social justice.

It is for this reason that the GWU believes in a new social contract that can adjust the relationship between government, people and capital, on a global level. We recognise this Coalition’s critical importance as a platform that can generate increased political commitments, foster concrete actions, and create a forum for exchange and dialogue.

The ultimate goal is that of achieving a greater balance among the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and this certainly resonates strongly with the GWU’s organisational values and commitments.

We further endorse the diverse composition of the Coalition, which reflects a comprehensive and collaborative approach towards addressing social justice deficits. Advocacy requires unity between various forces and multilateral cooperation when translating commitments into effective action.

By working jointly with other participants, we increase the scale and impact of our actions in a more coherent and coordinated manner.

To the GWU, being part of the Coalition will also provide numerous benefits, including the identification of new opportunities and partnerships, increased visibility of our actions and initiatives, and the chance to showcase progress and impact within a broader network of committed actors.

Our Maltese experience through the ages has taught us how leveraging the power of social dialogue and tripartism has been an effective means to advance social justice sustainably. We are eager to contribute to this endeavour.

The GWU is delighted to join forces with those genuinely ready to contribute to delivering social justice to more people. We look forward to working closely with the ILO and other organisations driven by willingness to advance social justice, that can help this platform promote policy coherence and joint actions. For the effectiveness of the Coalition’s efforts can only be measured by the way in which we influence the global agenda, by joining forces towards a common vision.

The author is secretary-general of the GWU