Topic A: Improving Working Conditions in the Textile, Clothing, Leather, and Footwear Industry
Globally, the Textile, Clothing, Leather, and Footwear (TCLF) industry employs about 60 million to 75 million people, an increase from an estimated 20 million people employed by the industry in 2000. This is a byproduct of the world’s increasing demand for apparel, an industry valued at over 2.5 trillion USD. In the developed world, the increasing consumer demand for cheap clothes has sparked a “fast fashion” trend. Consequently, manufacturers often sacrifice the safety of garment workers in order to cut costs. Garment workers in the developing world often work for little pay and in unsafe conditions. In India, less than half of all garment workers earn the minimum wage. Additionally, the TCLF industry’s supply chain affects every country. This topic is of particular relevance to parties (countries, companies, and labor unions) that are directly involved in the manufacturing and export side of the supply chain, as the topic directly focuses on the welfare of these workers. Countries on the other side of the supply chain that are indirectly involved by importing the products produced have a large stake as well. The tripartite nature of the ILO will create an intricate debate that will encourage delegates to collaborate, with various motives and interests pushed for by different parties.
Topic B: Promoting 'Decent Work' in Post-Conflict Regions
The economic ramifications of armed conflict are often disastrous. Physical capital may be ruined, investor confidence plummets or becomes nonexistent, refugees and internally displaced persons pine for decent work, and debilitated infrastructure impedes economic recovery. Key to recovery efforts in post-conflict regions is the provision of sufficient decent work. Decent work is defined by the International Labour Organization as productive work in conditions of freedom, equality, security, and human dignity. In the aftermath of armed conflict, economic disparities can be perpetuated and strengthened. In Uganda after its civil war in the 1980s, two-thirds of households that fled from the violence lost most if not all of their assets to warfare and looting. The ILO has found that community engagement, as well as close collaboration with formal and informal community leaders, can improve transparency in the distribution of benefits and encourage overall community accountability for its economic development in post-conflict regions. However, the specific solutions for different conflict regions may vary depending upon the degree of physical devastation, the fragility of institutions, and the economic industries affected. In this topic, debate will center on the needs of countries directly affected by conflict, countries indirectly affected through an influx of refugees or economic disruption, and the need for humanitarian aid provided by countries removed from conflict. Through an in-depth examination of the needs of local economies, refugees, and ex-combatants, the ILO will endeavor to bring social justice and economic recovery to affected areas.