Global Coalition for Social Justice
19 February 2024

How Can International Geneva Advance Social Justice?

In partnership with the TASC Platform and in support of the launch of the Global Coalition for Social Justice by the International Labour Organization, the Geneva Graduate Institute hosted a panel discussion entitled “How Can International Geneva Advance Social Justice?” on 15 February 2024 at the Maison de la paix. Chaired by Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Institute, the discussion brought together Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and Paul Ladd, Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

“[S]ocial justice, together with environmental and climate resilience, should be identified in the coming years as a priority amongst priorities. If we work together seriously and effectively on social justice in its multiple dimensions, we will gain significant leverage to address many of our current ills and threats.”

Marie-Laure Salles


In a world riven by geopolitical tensions, and with our common future hanging in the balance, it is urgent that our societies aim for a strong and sustained dose of social justice if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals we have set for ourselves.

Harnessing the diversity of actors in Geneva’s institutional ecosystem for crosscutting responses across institutions and sectors to advance social justice is crucial and creates a unique ability, and responsibility, to take bold action.

On this note, the Institute hosted Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director-General of the ILO, and Paul Ladd, Director of UNRISD to discuss the quest for social justice and to celebrate their commitment to the Global Coalition for Social Justice, recently launched by the ILO.

The Geneva Graduate Institute proudly joined the Global Coalition for Social Justice earlier in February, and Marie-Laure Salles enthusiastically expressed her support for the milestone initiative. The pursuit of social justice has been at the core of the work and mission of the Institute since its creation in 1927, as advancing justice is a structuring component of the fight for peace. Advancing social justice requires urgent actions and the commitment of different types of organisations and constituents at the national and international levels. As a research and postgraduate institution, the Institute is willing to join forces and contribute to this forum for exchange and dialogue towards advancing social justice and decent work, and in the process building the structural conditions for peace that our world so badly needs.

The Global Coalition for Social Justice is aimed at intensifying collective efforts to urgently address social justice deficits and to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Decent Work Agenda.

The importance of such collaborative efforts was at the heart of the evening’s discussion.

The concept that “poverty and inequality are two faces of the same coin” was first shared by Rebeca Grynspan but recurred multiple times, along with the fact that many asymmetries at the international level are posing obstacles to equality amongst human beings.

Gilbert F. Houngbo called attention to the challenge of equal access to opportunities,a divide amongst the human population that is increasing over time. He pointed out that at this time, 4 billion people – half of the global population – have zero social protection, whereas 1% of the population has 38% of all global wealth.

That inequalities drive crises and leave worsened inequalities in the aftermath was emphasised by Paul Ladd, who in one of his interventions emphasised the importance of not only touching minds but hearts and in using culture in its various forms to unite.

The importance of collaboration and teamwork at every level, from the personal to the cultural and the international, at every multidisciplinary level, was a uniting line throughout the evening.

The video of the conference was made available by the ILO on 20 February in honour of the World Day of Social Justice.

© Geneva Graduate Institute, 2024
© Geneva Graduate Institute, 2024
© Geneva Graduate Institute, 2024
© Geneva Graduate Institute, 2024