DELEGATIONS FROM the Caribbean are in discussion on solutions to major social problems afflicting regions of the world at the historic 100th anniversary conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that began in Geneva, Switzerland last Wednesday. Like other poor and developing regions of the global community, some with very vulnerable economies, the Caribbean is faced with more than serious challenges of high rates of unemployment and poverty that also contribute to the upsurge in criminality and violence. Exploitation of child labour and human trafficking – men, women and children are all among the victims – as well as discrimination based on race and gender have become serious problems for some of the countries over which the ILO and other United Nations agencies maintain watch. There are now indicators that the Caribbean is also being increasingly affected, particularly Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Amid such challenging social problems, the region’s labour movement has to struggle, often against the odds, to retain credibility in championing the interest of workers in response to policy changes in the public sector as well as new strategies being pursued within the private sector. It is against the backdrop of rising discontent, resulting from the still prevailing global economic crisis and its negative impact on rights of workers and related concerns over declining social justice, that the ILO’s 100th anniversary conference is taking place. The conference, which will continue until June 17 and, said the ILO, will debate current and future challenges in the world of work. These will include record high unemployment rates, a global youth unemployment crisis and the extension of “social protection coverage” to the eight in ten people in the world without any such protection. As assessed by director general of the ILO, Juan Somavia, the world faces a serious social justice challenge and he would like this to be vigorously addressed by delegates representing governments, employers and workers in Geneva. Delegates will have among working documents for their consideration a report presented by the Somavia on the state of the world of work in the aftermath of the global economic crisis entitled A New Era of Social Justice. World leaders from the rich and powerful to those of the poor and developing nations are in Geneva as well as top officials of international agencies and institutions. The Caribbean had a comparatively low profile prior to the start of the conference, but it is to be hoped that there would be some positive developments to report on when their delegations return to their respective countries.