09 July 2024

Embracing Social Justice in Multilateralism: Some Reflections after the Launch of the Global Coalition for Social Justice

Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Geneva Graduate Institute, attended the official launch of the Global Coalition for Social Justice and its Inaugural Forum, held at the Palais des Nations on 13 June, as an academic member of the Coalition’s Coordinating Group. 

This year’s International Labour Conference brought a powerful reminder of the critical importance of social justice in our world today, with the official launch of the Global Coalition for Social Justice and its Inaugural Forum, held at the Palais des Nations on 13 June. The Geneva Graduate Institute is proud to have been invited to join the Coalition’s Coordinating Group, as academic member. This privileged position allows us to contribute significantly to this global mobilisation effort, emphasising the role of academia in shaping and supporting international initiatives aimed at creating a fairer and more just world. Joining the Global Coalition for Social Justice makes a lot of sense for the Institute as it resonates with our Vision of mobilising diversities to foster the understanding and engagement essential to a peaceful, just and sustainable world.

This event was a resounding success for the ILO and its Director General Gilbert Houngbo, as the new Coalition already approaches 300 multistakeholder members. Two personal highlights for me were the interventions of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and of President Ramchandra Paudel of Nepal. 

President Paudel’s keynote address set the tone for the day, emphasising climate justice from the perspective of a non-emitter country, and urging the international community to invest in social and climate justice rather than in “deadly weapons for useless wars”. His words underscored the necessity of listening to diverse voices in multilateral fora.

President Lula echoed this sentiment in a highly inspirational keynote affirming that "lasting peace can only be established if it is based on social justice." His words resonated deeply, reinforcing the importance of the ILO's 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia and its enduring relevance. President Lula urged us all to strongly support multilateralism by calling for profound reforms for greater inclusivity. He passionately argued against the dominant mindset of "if you want peace, prepare for war," advocating instead multilateral collaboration for social justice and peace. He concluded with a call to an urgent end to the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The Geneva Graduate Institute pushes the agenda of social justice through different initiatives, the Thinking Ahead on Societal Change (TASC) Platform playing an important role here. 

In the coming years, social justice, together with environmental and climate resilience, will have to be identified as priorities amongst priorities. More than ever, social justice emerges as a necessary condition on the difficult path towards lasting peace. Hence, the Global Coalition for Social Justice is both necessary and urgent. By advocating for social justice in multilateral debates and fostering a revitalised global social contract, we can ensure that social justice is a key component of national and global policymaking, development cooperation, and financial, trade, and investment agreements.

Let us build together a world where social justice prevails, paving the way for lasting peace and justice. Our common engagement and commitment are crucial.