Philosophical and spiritual perspectives

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Summary of Philosophical and spiritual perspectives

Philosophical and spiritual perspectives on DECENT WORK Edited by Dominique Peccoud International Labour Office • Geneva World Council of Churches ILO International Institute for Labour Studies Philosophical and spiritual perspectives on DECENT WORK Edited by Dominique Peccoud iloPreDecrev_CAG 16.12.2003 8:06 Page 1 iloPreDecrev_CAG 16.12.2003 8:06 Page 2 Philosophical and spiritual perspectives on DECENT WORK Edited by Dominique Peccoud International Labour Office • Geneva World Council of Churches ILO International Institute for Labour Studies iloPreDecrev_CAG 16.12.2003 8:06 Page 3 Copyright © International Labour Organization 2004 First published 2004 Publications of the International Labour Office enjoy copyright under Protocol 2 of the Universal Copyright Convention. Nevertheless, short excerpts from them may be reproduced without authorization, on condition that the source is indicated. 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ILO publications can be obtained through major booksellers or ILO local offices in many countries, or direct from ILO Publications, International Labour Office, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland. Catalogues or lists of new publications are available free of charge from the above address or by email: [email protected] Visit our website: Typeset by Magheross Graphics, France & Ireland Printed in Peccoud, D. (ed.) Philosophical and spiritual perspectives on Decent Work Geneva, International Labour Office, 2004 Promotion of employment, work, workers’ rights, value system, religion, ethics, philosophical aspect. 13.01.3 ISBN 92-2-114155-1 ILO Cataloguing in Publication Data PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page iv v CONTENTS Preface vii Foreword xiii Acknowledgements xvii PART I The issue at stake: Decent Work in the context of globalization and universal values 1 The ILO Decent Work Agenda as the aspiration of people: The insertion of values and ethics in the global economy (Juan Somavia) 3 Conflicting values: Dialogue of cultures on Decent Work (Konrad Raiser) 13 PART II Synthesis: Convergent views on Decent Work 19 Synthesis of contributions from various humanistic, philosophical, spiritual and religious traditions 21 PART III Specific opinions expressed by participants 49 Anglican reflections from a South African economist (Francis Wilson) 51 Decent Work: A Brazilian reflection (Wanda Deifelt) 54 Problems with Decent Work in a developing society: A humanistic perspective from India (Ashim Kumar Roy) 58 Spirituality and public policy for Decent Work: Self-realization in the new millennium (Alfredo Sfeir-Younis) 63 The Decent Work Agenda and the global commons: The implementation of economic, social and cultural rights (Berma Klein-Goldewijk) 72 Decent Work: A Confucian perspective (Dominic Sachsenmaier) 84 PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page v Decent Work: Perspective of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu Reformist movement (Swami Agnivesh) 89 Dignity, self-realization and the spirit of service: Principles and practices of Decent Work (Gayatri Naraine) 96 Decent Work: A Buddhist perspective (Damien Keown) 104 Work in the Jewish Tradition (François Garaï) 111 The Decent Work Agenda and the Reformed Protestant or Presbyterian tradition (William A. McComish) 118 Decent Work from a Protestant perspective (François Dermange) 124 Decent Work: A Catholic perspective (Dominique Peccoud) 129 Decent Work and fundamental principles and rights at work, with particular reference to Islam (Zafar Shaheed) 140 Decent Work: In search of a common ethical framework (Farah Daghistani) 150 A Muslim perspective on Decent Work (Tidjane Thiam) 155 PART IV Conclusion 161 Consultation on the ILO Decent Work Agenda: An assessment 163 Annex I The Decent Work Agenda: A brief summary 167 Annex II Outline for contributions by participants 169 Annex III List of participants 171 Philosophical and spiritual perspectives on Decent Work vi PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page vi vii The International Labour Organization was created in 1919, in the first instance as an organization to set an international minimum level of labour standards. Divergences in labour standards and their application were at the time seen as one of the root causes of social tensions and conflicts, which could foster – as the world at that time had just experienced with great pain – war and revolutions. The ILO’s scope of activity has over the decades considerably enlarged beyond this core function, which still remains and on which a large amount of the Organization’s comparative advantage is dependent. In a multidimensional world, the mandate of the ILO is to help strengthen its social dimension. Therefore, the ILO recently adopted the Decent Work Agenda, which reflects, in clear language, certain universal aspirations of people throughout the world. It is therefore called upon to reach out to these people worldwide in a time of globalization. This is at the same time a personal goal for individual fulfilment; a collective goal for the social partners; and a developmental goal for countries. When pursuing its Decent Work Agenda, the ILO has to look at the overall means available to it and its tripartite constituents: governments, employers and trade unions. These partners also have to face a more complex, more vibrant world than some 80 years ago, with more independent actors, some better empowered than others. One of the prerequisites for a meaningful life is a certain minimum level of principles and rights. These human rights at work are derived from the Constitution of the ILO and set out in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. When adopting this Declaration in June 1998, the International Labour Conference also set out a follow-up mechanism to ensure the effective promotion of these principles and rights. These fundamental rights concern freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of forced and child labour, and the absence of discrimination in employment and occupation. PREFACE PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page vii The normative aspects of the Decent Work Agenda are broader than this short list of principles and rights, also known as core labour standards. These are enabling rights, and promoting and respecting them will also create better conditions for the realization of other standards essential for decent conditions of work and life. For instance, a proper application of any standards regarding wages, working time, safety and health, social security, and so on, no doubt requires that the fundamental conditions of freedom and constructive inter- action be respected. An efficient wages policy is hardly compatible with a situation where the rights to organize and bargain collectively are denied. Fundamental principles and rights are universal, and the 1998 Declaration reminds us that they should be promoted and realized by all countries, even if they have not ratified the international labour Conventions relating to the four categories. However, no universal principle is applied in the abstract; application always takes place in national and local circumstances. The key to successful application is the right mix of the universal principle and the ways in which those directly concerned can gain ownership over it. Labour standards are not pieces of machinery which come in a “one-size-fits-all” format. The way in which they fit, and contribute best, to national systems of labour market governance has to be negotiated, and the solutions must be reasonably commonly acceptable. It might be easy to draw the conclusion that labour standards should thus in all respects, including philosophical and spiritual values, be as neutral as possible. Those who set out to draft the rules of the game should then be put, as John Rawls says in The law of peoples, into an “original position” – behind a “veil of ignorance”, where they put aside the racial, social and economic specificities of the country or group they represent. Instead of focusing on points of divergence and confrontational questions, the process would thus concentrate on specific subjects and to a great extent procedural matters. One might say that such an approach most probably would lead to a “soft” consensus or to a minimal set of rights conceived in broad terms only – at worst, in too general terms to be meaningful. After all, everyone would agree that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, but it would not be meaningful to stipulate this in an international political or legal instrument. In addition, labour relations are by their nature controversial in that the interests of several parties have to be reconciled. The aim is to deal with conflictual issues in a non-conflictual way, without denying the existence of conflicting interests but trying to produce win–win situations, or at least a situation where divergence can be tolerated. However, it would be wrong to think that both fundamental and other labour standards should, or indeed could, simply be rules of the game, without any value-system being implied. After all, throughout its history the ILO has been operating on one underlying premise: that labour is not a commodity. Philosophical and spiritual perspectives on Decent Work viii PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page viii Consequently, standards for the labour market cannot be comparable to those which we apply to commodity or capital markets. In fact, one of the compelling reasons for establishing minimum standards was to ensure that competitive advantage would not be forced by making human beings work in unacceptable, undignified and hazardous conditions. In short, parallel to economic and social considerations, there is a strongly implied ethical dimension in labour standards. And there is the inescapable fact that as decent labour standards and conditions of work, including employment and social security, diminish social tensions and thus the danger of conflict, we are dealing with an inseparable element of peace within and between nations. Social and labour questions may be seen as being “soft”, but shortcomings in them (as well as ignoring or neglecting them) have “hard” consequences through the economic and human cost of conflict. The strength of fundamental principles and rights at work is that they conform to the basic philosophical and spiritual orientations and aspirations of the world. Of course, this does not limit itself to the normative aspects of the Decent Work Agenda; on the contrary, for instance, aiming to secure protection for all working women and men or indeed fostering productive job creation and social dialogue should sit well with all major religious and philosophical systems. Conversely, the major philosophical and spiritual orientations of the world should give further inspiration to the Decent Work Agenda and its implementation. What, then, would be the ways to promote the necessary interaction and dialogue? The World Peace Summit, held in 2000, is an example: 1,000 religious and spiritual leaders were invited to represent the many faith traditions in a gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, with the aim of promoting world peace. Other inter-religious dialogues involve small meetings of, say, 20 to 50 participants, convened to discuss precise topical and carefully chosen issues affecting society. That is the case with the World Faith Development Dialogue, initiated by the World Bank and the Archdiocese of Canterbury in the United Kingdom. The third meeting of this Dialogue was held in October 2002. This kind of targeted dialogue on specific points may well be more efficient than large meetings aimed at formulating unanimous positions and a consensus. At the national level, coalitions fostering decent work could increasingly involve the major humanistic, philosophical, spiritual or religious orientations. Comparing notes between, say, churches and institutions or organizations in the labour market can reveal a much broader communality of values and aspirations than might be expected at first glance. In addition, churches and faith-based organizations can play an important role as partners in implementing fundamental principles and rights at work. In particular in the informal economy, where traditional employers’ and workers’ organizations Preface ix PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page ix have limited access, they can be important actors in combating child labour, forced labour and discrimination, and they can help in providing more possibilities for the vulnerable and unorganized to have a voice in defending their and their families’ vital interests. What is essential is that dialogue and interaction focus on specific subjects and not on a global confrontation on ideological or religious positions. Rational dialogue to reach a common position is possible when it is limited to specific subjects, without denying the participants’ different religious, spiritual or ideological convictions. It would also seem natural to proceed by establishing a first consensus on how to address fundamental questions and/or the framework in which more specific issues are to be dealt with. This raises a methodological question, as most probably the first issue to be addressed relates to how such a process should be conducted. For instance, regarding the major orientations of the Decent Work Agenda and its application, in addition to the customary (and obligatory) tripartite dialogues and preparatory processes, there could be consultations with a view to taking into account and strengthening its philosophical and spiritual dimensions. A limited number of people who have deep roots in their own tradition and a clear understanding of the technical issues at stake could be involved. These people should be capable of making reflections which can interpret or reinterpret their own tradition in a new context. These must be people of dialogue, ready to understand the specific issues involved in the world of work. It would also be useful if they had knowledge and were also capable of engaging with the organizations and institutions involved. Each participant in such consultations would be asked individually to give his or her considered views on the issues concerned, identifying what is negative or positive, what is missing, and which orientations should be further developed. This could form the basis of a first synthesis exploring both convergences and divergences between traditions and philosophical and spiritual orientations. Subsequently, in a closed session each participant could address the issues and answer questions posed by others. The report of such consultations would aim at a synthesis of all the points of agreement and also include the participants’written contributions, presenting a wide spectrum of views. The goal would not be to reach consensus but to exchange views and explore how different issues related to the Decent Work Agenda might be seen and dealt with by different philosophical and spiritual orientations. For the organization concerned – in this case, of course, the ILO – the consultations would be purely and strictly advisory. The decisions on main orientations and their application would, naturally, remain fully in the hands of the constitu- tionally mandated parties. Philosophical and spiritual perspectives on Decent Work x PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page x The benefit of such an approach would be that the philosophical and spiritual dimensions of questions which concern intimately all actors in the world of work would be considered. This is not an unimportant question because, as noted earlier, the Decent Work Agenda has an important moral dimension and is about dignity at work. Needless to say, that people have work, and work in decent conditions, is central to the spiritual well-being of human beings. At a very practical level, such an exercise should also serve to diminish fears that orientations concerning work and labour standards are determined or dominated by some philosophical and spiritual orientations, ignoring others. I write these words with the firm conviction that such a process will not mean any revision or readjustment of the fundamental orientations which have been agreed upon over the decades and which are now strengthened by the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda. As I have pointed out earlier, the principles adopted and the rights recognized have been deemed universal. What is important is to improve their application in different contexts, including different philosophical and spiritual ones. Fundamental principles and rights at work, and indeed the notion of Decent Work, should be no strangers to local religious and spiritual leaders, teachers, community elders and so on. Combating child labour, forced labour and discrimination, and giving a voice and empowerment to the unprotected, excluded and marginalized, should be vital matters for the whole community, county and country. A method of the kind described above was tested by Dominique Peccoud, Special Adviser to the Director-General of the ILO for Socio-Religious Affairs, with the elements of the Decent Work Agenda during a one-year consultation and a seminar held in Geneva, Switzerland, 22-25 February 2002. This was done in cooperation between the ILO and the World Council of Churches (WCC). Participants in the meeting were either academics or social activists belonging to a particular community – and in some case both. Some ILO and WCC officials were also involved in the process. The communities represented included Judaism, Christianity and Islam; Hinduism and Buddhism; Confucianism, humanism and atheism. The results show a fascinating convergence of views regarding key questions of dignity and rights of human beings at work, and regarding work itself. While they bear witness to the universal nature of the Decent Work Agenda, they also offer important insights for further implementing this agenda in the real world. Kari Tapiola Executive Director Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Sector Preface xi PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page xi PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page xii xiii Since its origins, the ILO has created legal instruments to guide development policies that promote social justice, progress and freedom for all. There are two main ways of developing such instruments, according to whether emphasis is placed on the consequences or on the intentions of human moral behaviour. The first approach is based on the view that legal instruments do not proceed from pre-existing transcendent values. Their main aim is to make people act so as to produce the greatest overall good in today’s empirical world. Such a perspective, called “utilitarian”, seeks to bring a kind of scientific certainty to issues concerning ethics. Thus, different courses of action are scientifically assessed to determine which will have the greatest positive impact, measured in terms of specific intrinsic values, such as “pleasure” (Jeremy Bentham, 1748–1832), “happiness” (John Stuart Mill, 1806–1873), “real ideals” such as freedom, knowledge, justice and beauty (George Moore, 1873–1958) and “preferences” (Kenneth Arrow, 1921–, Nobel Prize for Economics 1972). This practical approach is more prevalent in Anglo-Saxon countries. It raises two major questions when international instruments are to be developed: Who is to assess the impact of one or other course of action? What is envisaged when we seek to optimize the overall good in the world, that is, what constitutes the world – is it our country, race, all human beings, all sentient beings including animals, or even “Mother Earth”? The alternative approach reflects the conception of law that prevails in value-based cultures. Here, law is the concrete incarnation of transcendent values that are embedded in philosophical, humanistic, spiritual or religious traditions, each of which proposes a global ideal as an answer to the question: “What is a meaningful human life?” These traditions view moral behaviour more in terms of the intention of an actor in his or her attempt to respect transcendent principles of action, such as absolute respect for inherent human dignity or the duties attached to one’s caste. FOREWORD PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page xiii Law making at the ILO may be perceived as a combination of the utilitarian and the value-based approaches. From a utilitarian perspective, particularly in the theory developed by Kenneth Arrow, expressed preferences on a particular issue are taken as the intrinsic value. This is how the ILO proceeds when carrying out preliminary studies for the development of a new legal instrument. Statistical studies are conducted to analyse a phenomenon quantitatively. At the same time, qualitative studies are made with ILO constituents (governments, and employers’ and workers’ organizations), and occasionally in partnership with civil society organizations, regarding practical experience and existing legal instruments. Through this pragmatic approach, the ILO secretariat (the Office) and its partners try to identify the main path to be sought. Thus, for instance, in the early 1990s and long before the adoption in 1999 of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182), the ILO InFocus Programme on Child Labour carried out studies to identify best practices. In this way, the Office tries to identify preferences for policy orientation. The first draft of the legal instrument is then written, taking these preferences into account. The draft is then discussed in order to integrate more of the constituents’preferences. Until this step there has been no explicit reflection on values, and the Office proceeds in an inductive manner as priorities emerge. The revised text is finally discussed, amended and adopted by the International Labour Conference. In the next stage, once the legal instrument is adopted, it has to be submitted to the national legislative bodies for ratification. Ratification serves to translate the adopted general legal instrument into specific laws that are applied concretely in the cultures of member States. During the stage of adoption, and even more so during the process of ratification, the issue emerges of how to take into account the underlying values of the specific cultures. The final aim is the adoption and enforcement of national laws. Would it not be desirable – to make the ratification and enforcement phase of international laws more efficient – to take transcendent values into account at an earlier stage in the framing of international legal instruments? Doing so, however, raises the issue of the very existence of universal values that do not contradict the local values underlying local cultures. These cultures vary widely: they evolve in terms of the collective behaviour of members of broader civilizations confronted with new problems arising in the world and with constant technological change. Civilizations are themselves anchored in wider sets of values, specifically those held by the main philosophical and spiritual traditions. Here the issue becomes whether these main traditions share common values on which it would be possible to build international legal instruments that are universally recognized, or if the differences of opinion on the meaning Philosophical and spiritual perspectives on Decent Work xiv PRELIMS (pp.i-xviii) 4/12/03 2:28 PM Page xiv