Category: Pax Statements

The Future of Social Dialogue

Perspectives of International Non- Governmental Organisations


Published on the occasion of the 111th Session of the International Labour Organisation, 5.- 16 June 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland.


This paper intends to contribute to the transformation of the social dialogue in order to ensure that those who are marginalised, vulnerable and unrecognised in the informal economy can participate meaningfully and make full use of social dialogue as a public good. It is a first response to the Director General’s Global Coalition for Social Justice, which will be launched on the occasion of the 111th Session of the International Labour Conference. The paper intends also to commemorate 30 years of engagement of Kolping International at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2023 exemplifying the continuous support of INGOs, particularly Catholic Inspired Organisations, for the ILO’s strive for social justice through decent work.


The world of labour faces grave challenges and is changing rapidly. On the one hand, digitalisation forces workers to permanently increase the skills and demands flexibility, supported by the need for green and sustainable economy. On the other hand, the still existing paradigm of growth fosters global market competition, which causes forms of modern slavery and exploitation by marking labour as cost factor. Both developments, however, jeopardize the fundamental labour rights and contradict the recognition that only social justice leads to peace in the world. Since Labour is not a commodity as confirmed by the ILO Centenary Declaration of 2019, decent work is a precondition for social justice. The Centenary Declaration also reconfirms the contribution of social dialogue to the overall cohesion of society.(2)

Furthermore, social dialogue is one of the four pillars of the ILO-Decent Work Concept(3). Besides the implementation of the fundamental rights at work, an effective and encompassing social protection scheme and favourable employment policies, social dialogue is another precondition for power equilibrium between employers and workers. Though always highlighted as the stronghold against crisis while praising countries with traditionally strong social partners as economically and socially resilient, social dialogue is frequently jeopardized and undermined in sectors, which are labour intensive (service sector, construction, care work) and countries, which are weak in participatory structures. Particularly in countries where the informal economy prevails, social dialogue lacks efficiency because of low percentage of organised workers whereby the majority of the work force cannot access negotiation tables. Since the 70’s of last century, the ILO looks into the informal economy as a labour reality for the majority of the global work force. With the Home Work Convention C177 (1996)(4) the social partners negotiated a labour sector in which mostly informally working women earn their living. At that time, only few civil society movements and labour oriented NGOs were invited to the negotiation parties and engaged in ratification campaigns. Lately, the adoption of the C189 Decent work for Domestic workers (2011)5 proofed that social partners need the expertise of stakeholders when it comes to implementing the precious and powerful slogan ‘Nothing about us without us’. INGOs with their local membership- based constituencies and affiliates are often closer to the informal workers than the unions. The reasons for this fact are multiple and rooted in the origin of the groups being self- aid groups, church and faith based organisations sui generis or backed by those. Hence, from the perspective of INGOs they are usually the only ones siding with the informal workers. They often provide access to their members for unions and promote the right to organise. Faith based INGOs expressed this understanding of their role of INGOs in social dialogue in a statement to the social partners and the new Director General of the ILO after the 110th session of the ILC in 2022.6
Nowadays, the motto ‘Nothing about us without us’ proves to be even more significant in the broader context of protecting civic space and participation. Apparently, over the last two decades the fight against terrorism, the financial, climate, health crises and imperialistic attacks provide many causes for many countries to minimise the access of civil society to meaningful participation in shaping the future of their societies. Workers being citizens and consumers as well as caretakers of resources and maintainers of their societies are part of civil society and also part of the economic world. Therefore, social dialogue is a guarantor for social peace and also a fundamental element of civil society participation.

The ILO and INGOs

Social dialogue has been under pressure for many years. Therefore, it was and is a long-term concern for INGOs. In all discussion around the agenda of the ILCs, INGOs highlight the need for social dialogue, provide inputs for rethinking social dialogue facing the challenges for decent work and social justice. INGOs have given continuous support to social partners, while safeguarding the social dialogue. While acknowledging the most efficient and significant structure of tripartism in the ILO, the INGOs at the ILO consider themselves as organisations rooted in the grassroot movements of their members and national constituencies. They take up the immediate concerns of their members regarding matters of ecological, economic and social dimension. Thereby, they support the criteria for INGOs registered at the ILO being member based and globally working around all dimension of labour and work. Over the years, many INGOs have built relations to unions on national and international levels, so that representatives are integrated in the national delegations of unions, being advisors and negotiators for specific issues as was experienced with the Homeworkers (C177), the Domestic Workers (C189) and on the concern of sexual harassment (C190)7.

In the past INGOs have also proven to be important supporters for the ratification processes, especially on Conventions concerning workers in the informal economy since those are often members of INGOs and International Labour Movements. When it comes to further advocacy work, INGOs rooted in the informal economy, contribute to discovery and awareness rising on labour law violations and provide access for unions to vulnerable groups while ensuring their protection against arbitrariness. Their international structure provides access to far-reaching platforms for dialogue. Critical aspects, like the often very specific approach of INGOs, which does not consider the broader context of the world of work, needs attention. By claiming their own right to speak and to participate in negotiation, the negotiation power itself, if not concretized with the social partners is jeopardized. Furthermore, INGOs themselves sometimes do not conform to the values of labour laws and policies due to financial concerns and unawareness of their responsibility as employers. The legal settings in the ILO member countries where INGOs work sometimes foster the lack of credibility or – on another level – hinder the participation of INGOs in social dialogue altogether. Nevertheless, there is benefit in a trusting and mindful cooperation with social partners. Work around the ILO brings INGOs and social partners together and gives opportunity to do advocacy work. This advocacy work originates from the grassroot level. Its mandate to give a voice to the poor and the vulnerable on international level enables participation in ecological, economic and social aspects of the future of work. Using the possibilities the ILO provides gives INGOs the chance of being heard by social partners and governments. Making use of this chance on international level encourages INGOs to improve their relations to social partners also on the national level. It also has the potential to encourage social partners to take their place in the sharing of social difficulties in order to define standards of decent work. Common and individual statements, reports, results of discussions and workshops are useful to inform, train and empower members and other partners. They are as well a capacity training for negotiation skills, campaigning and legal issues.
This not only gives motivation to engage on international negotiation tables to the leaders of INGOs but first and foremost to the broad member base struggling with the improvement of the world of work on the grassroot level.

Recommendations for an efficient and meaningful social dialogue

The Global Commission on the Future of Work, which concluded its work before the centenary anniversary of the ILO in 20198, emphasized social dialogue to be a public good. In the rapidly changing world of work with various forms of precarious work in the digital and service oriented sectors, this public good has to be safeguarded and the awareness of it revived, social dialogue remodeled.
A unique and outstanding contribution to the 100 years anniversary of the ILO and the future of social dialogue was the ‘Shaping the Future of Work’ Document of Churches and Catholic INGOs in the European Union, published on 27th November 2018.9

The following recommendations do not only reflect the deliberations of this initiative but also the results of many years of debate around this topic.


What the ILO should do:

On national level

  • Introduce a contact point on national level at ILO office
  • Initiate round tables before ILC on the upcoming agenda
  • Promote dialogue between different actors in all ILO member countries

At the International Labour Conference and ILO initiatives

  • Increase speaking time for INGO I n the committees
  • Ensure presence and effective participation of INGOs, esp. in the Global Coalition for Social Justice
  • Limit the overall size of delegations in presence and facilitate virtual participation

What Social partners could do

  • Initiate national dialogues on the agenda of upcoming ILC
  • Install contact points for easy access and exchange on reports
  • Consider opening the delegations to NGO participation as advisors on a regular base

What INGOs could do

  • Mobilise their national members to have regular relations with the Union Federation
    and Employers’ Federation
  • Mobilise their members to join their international delegations to ILC
  • Engage in regular exchange with the Labour relevant departments of governments
  • Build awareness on work of the ILO as part of global governance
  • Support the national affiliates and members to build contacts and networks with the
    social partners and with each other.

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Statement of International Catholic Organizations regarding the violent government crackdowns against dissenting citizens of Sri Lanka – 05th August 2022

We, the undersigned International Catholic Organisations, are extremely concerned about the current violent crackdowns by the Sri Lankan government against the citizens of Sri Lanka who are dissenting against corruption and violation of democracy. It has come to our attention that Ranil Wickremasinghe, who succeeded the ousted President Gotabaya Rajapakse over allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the economic crisis, has adopted repressive machinery against peaceful protesters who had been occupying Galle Face since April 2022. Ranil Wickremesinghe is also widely perceived to be a protector of the corrupt regime of Rajapakses and he himself has various allegations of mismanaging public resources. 

His government has weaponized the process of law against peaceful protesters with several key activists of the protest movement taken under custody under public property and emergency regulations. Fr. Jeevantha Pieris, Venerable Koswatte Mahanama Thero, Ceylon Teachers’ Union General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Attorney at Law Nuwan Bopege, Journalist Tharindu Uduwaragedara and Inter-University Students’ Federation Convener Wasantha Mudalige are among the key activists targeted by the government.

Issuing a statement on 31st July 2022, 1640 Sri Lankan Catholic priests, sisters and brothers have already condemned several violations of human rights of the protesters including physical assault, obstruction to receiving legal assistance and raid of Fr. Jeevantha’s church in Rathnapura diocese.

It is distressing to hear that during the past few weeks several unidentified bodies have been washed into the coastal areas of Colombo city, the capital of Sri Lanka. Especially considering the human rights record of the current President who has allegations of administering torture chambers during the late 80s. 

The people of Sri Lanka are going through the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. Access to food, medicine, schools, livelihoods and basic utilities is severely restricted in the country with no credible financial assistance. It is in this context that people have taken to the streets to demand accountability and justice for the economic crisis. Protests are widespread with massive public participation and approval.

Therefore it is imperative that the government of Sri Lanka abides by the law and respects the human rights protected in the Constitution of the country, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Considering the gross violations of human rights by the current government headed by Ranil Wickremasinghe, it is the duty of the international community to stand with the people of Sri Lanka without isolating their demands for democracy and accountability. 

Therefore as concerned international Catholic organisations,

  1. We request our national member movements and individual members to contact their local political representatives and national political/Human Rights bodies and bring their attention to these atrocities and express their dismay to the Sri Lankan embassies/government.
  2. We request the Holy See to convey the concerns to the Sri Lankan government through diplomatic channels.
  3. We request International lending agencies and bilateral development partners to impose conditionalities on human rights violations. 
  4. We request the United Nations Human Rights Council to send a special envoy to investigate the situation and take necessary actions.

Endorsed by,

  • International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS/MIEC) Pax Romana
  • International Young Christian Workers (IYCW/JOCI)
  • International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA/MIIC) Pax Romana
  • World Movement of Christian Workers (WMCW/MMTC)

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Solidarity With the Students and civilian leaders of Myanmar

It is with a great sense of duty and concern that we the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs and the International Movement of Catholic Students condemn in strongest terms the recent attacks on due process, justice and democracy in Myanmar.

Eleven years ago, the nation moved from military rule to democracy after ruling the country for  decades. On early hours of Monday, 1st February, 2021 the military organized coup took place and the elected leaders of the people, especially the top echelon of the NLD leadership have been  arrested and  Aung San Suu Kyi taken to unknown locations for detention, under unsubstantiated charge of the violation of the country’s import-export laws.

It is important to alert the military that the world is watching most especially the young people of Myanmar whose future and destiny they are toying with.

We strongly advocate for a round table dialogue between the military high ranking officials, led by the commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, and the Civilian Leaders, to return power to the civilian leaders and call on the Civilian Leaders to address the concerns of the military if any.

We appeal to the students, youth and women of Myanmar to maintain peace and harmony as their plight is a global concern and we won’t rest until normalcy returns to Myanmar.

We call on the international community to intervene in this constitutional violation of the rights of democratically elected leaders so that participatory democracy is returned to the people of Myanmar.


International Teams of IMCS Pax Romana and ICMICA Pax Romana

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Hong Kong Crackdown

Pax Romana Statement on Mass Arrests of Pro-Democracy Figures in Hong Kong

Pax Romana Statement on Mass Arrests of Pro-Democracy Figures in Hong Kong

The mass arrests of activists and human rights defenders in Hong Kong this past week represents a serious attack on human rights and democracy.  

As the two international movements in Pax Romana, IMCS and ICMICA are particularly concerned by the arrest of John (Jack) Clancey, a lawyer, chair of the Asian Human Rights Commission,  and a former chaplain to our movements.  We are happy to know that Jack has been granted bail and we pledge to support him in the weeks ahead.

We stand in solidarity with Jack and with all the people of Hong Kong in this difficult time. These attacks come as the promise of participatory democracy is eroding not only in Hong Kong, but also in many other parts of the world as we saw with the failed coup in the United States this week. As movements, we continue to believe in the values of human rights and participatory democracy.

We urge our members, groups of Catholic students, professionals and intellectuals, and others friends to learn more about the human rights situation in Hong Kong and to reach out to their political leaders to take immediate action to put pressure on the Chinese government to abide by human rights norms as established in international law and to drop the charges on the human rights activists. 

For more information, see:


Ravi Tissera – International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana

Kevin Ahern, PhD, on behalf of the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA)

William Nokrek – Asia Pacific Secretariat, International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS)

Fasika Lachore Laba – International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS Pax Romana) Pan African Coordination, Nairobi Kenya

Eirini Freri – European Coordination (JECI-MIEC) International Young Catholic Students- International Movement of Catholic Students

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Solidarity Statement by The 2020 IMCS Pax Romana Global Advocacy Training Participants To #EndSARS Protesters In Nigeria

Solidarity Statement by The 2020 IMCS Pax Romana Global Advocacy Training Participants To #EndSARS Protesters In Nigeria

We, the 2020 International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana Global Advocacy Training Participants from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa have followed with interest the #EndSARS Protest by the Nigeria Youths, calling on their government to end Police Brutality, Reform the Police, end marginalization, serve justice to families and victims of police brutality and guarantee a good governance that inspires hope, vision and aspirations among the young people.

On the 20th October, 2020, the Nigeria Government instead of listening to the legitimate demands her future generation have placed before them, they unleashed heavily armed military men on peaceful and unarmed protesters which led to the killings of the peaceful protesters and metamorphosed to social unrest even as they raised up the nation’s flag with chants of national anthem.

We call on the Nigeria Government led by President Mohammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Army and all the stakeholders to rise and stop the killings of innocent peaceful #EndSarsNow Protesters for no nation on earth should be found with political will to wipe from the earth surface her future generation. The government should recognize that violence begets violence. 

We call on young people of Nigeria to follow the spirit of Peace and turn away from any form of violence continue to and seek more democratic and legal processes in their struggles for Justice.

Finally, we call upon the international community to recognize such processes in their own countries and respond meaningfully to the sufferings of victims of bad policy in the name of security and law.


Name of the Signatory Organization
Joseph Nyamayaro National Movement for Catholic Students (NMCS), Zimbabwe
Tinotenda Wakabikwa National Movement for Catholic Students (NMCS), Zimbabwe
Mpho Mehlape Association of Catholic Tertiary Students (ACTS), South Africa
Zoleka Shangase Association of Catholic Tertiary Students (ACTS), South Africa
Gmafumi Timothy Mabinkun International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Ghana Federation
Marvis Idemudia Ehigiator International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Ghana Federation
Tuntufye Simwimba IMCS Southern Africa Sub Regional Coordination
Nwalie Chinwe Maureen Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS)
Clinton Boniface Onoyima Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS)
Ogbonnah Francis Ugochukwu Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS)
Chukwu Stephen Chukwuebuka Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS)
Orbum Joseph Iorfa Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS)
Peter Uchenna Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS)
Ogbonnah Francis Ugochukwu Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS)
Madukwe Peter Obinwanne Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS)
Michael Afolami Peace Actor Network, Nigeria
SENZIRA Emmanuel International Movement of Catholic Students, Rwanda Federatiom
Koone Thamae National Movement for Catholic Students (NMCS) Botswana
Kudzai Sibusisiwe Mkwala National Movement for Catholic Students (NMCS), Zambia
Victoria K. Muzyamba National Movement of Catholic Students (NMCS) Zambia
Abhijith Mathew All India Catholic University Federation (AICUF)
Aniket Shubham Beck All India Catholic University Federation (AICUF)
Pasindu Lakshan Sri Lanka University Catholic Students’ Movement
Ruklan Kularatne Sri Lanka University Catholic Students’ Movement
Patrick Drishya Purification Bangladesh Catholic Students’ Movement
Swopnil Louis Cruze Bangladesh Catholic Students’ Movement
Sumic Maclean Gomes Bangladesh Catholic Students’ Movement
Anna Holtkamp Katholisch Studierende Jugend (KSJ) Germany 
Jonathan Pagel Katholisch Studierende Jugend (KSJ) Germany 
Conrrado Sigisfredo Vargas Unión Nacional de Estudiantes Católicos (UNEC) Perú
Erika Quispe Guerra Unión Nacional de Estudiantes Católicos (UNEC) Perú
Francisco Viany Flores Hilario Unión Nacional de Estudiantes Católicos (UNEC) Perú
Ariel Coello Peralta Jeunesse Etudiante Catholique (JEC) Ecuador
Sameh Kamel Advocacy Coordination Team, IMCS Pax Romana
Victor Kweku Ayertey Advocacy Coordination Team, IMCS Pax Romana
Eirini Freri JECI-MIEC European Coordination
William Nokrek IMCS Asia Pacific
Jorge Parra MIEC-JECI Latin American Coordination
Fasika Lachore Laba IMCS Pan African Coordination
Aurelie Monganzimbi IMCS Pan African Coordination
Fr. Fratern Masawe, SJ IMCS Pan African Coordination
Ravi Tissera International Coordination, IMCS Pax Romana
Michael Mmadubueze International Coordination, IMCS Pax Romana
Fr. Jojo Fung, SJ International Coordination, IMCS Pax Romana

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Pax Romana statement for International Workers’ Day 2020

“We ask St. Joseph …to help us fight for the dignity of work, so that there might be work for all and that it might be dignified work, not the work of a slave.”

Pope Francis on May 1, 2020

Today, we celebrate International Workers’ Day and the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. This day honors the collective dignity and rights of workers and the role of movements working for labor justice. 

This May Day, workers around the world are facing new challenges caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic. While the economic fallout of the crisis has impacted all workers, we take note that the poor and vulnerable have been most impacted by this crisis: extremely high rates of unemployment, dangerous working conditions, lack of protective equipment and medical care, rising cases of domestic violence, and growing discrimination against minorities and migrants. 

Daily wage workers are stranded in their confinements without any means to secure some food for their daily sustenance. Hunger has forced them to violate lockdown laws and put their lives in danger of getting infected. Scavenging has been the only way to find some food for many working-class families. 

All of this, as St James (James 5:1-6) reminds us, cries out to God and to our shared humanity to take action.

As many governments strengthened their war machineries, they neglected their obligation in establishing effective public healthcare systems. We are now paying a price. Many healthcare workers lack basic protective equipment. Many governments praise the healthcare workers as heroes without providing them with necessary protection and proper contracts to the unregulated healthcare workers.

Migrant workers and refugees have become one of the first communities to be victimized and discriminated during this pandemic. Many of the 244 million migrant workers have become jobless, homeless, and stranded away from home. Without the government subsidies and the access to public healthcare facilities, their plight has become more intolerable and fatal.

The Coronavirus pandemic is illuminating the glaring flaws in our present neoliberal world order and the need of a new social, economic, cultural, political post-pandemic world where everyone is included and mother earth is respected. As Pope Francis points out in Laudato Si’, Integral ecology “needs to take account of the value of labour” (124). Everyone must be able to work, because it is “part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment” (128), while “to stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society” (128).

On this International Workers’ Day, the Pax Romana family -the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) and the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA) – further confirms our Christian duty and commitment to find a society which liberates the “All and Whole human”. The Ponnamallee declaration (1970) of All India Catholic University Federation serves us a timely challenge: “We were born in an unjust society and we are determined not to leave it as we have found it.”

International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs Pax Romana (ICMICA)

International Movement of Catholic Students Pax Romana (IMCS

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