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Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.3.95.970429144844.14376A-100000@sunspot.ccs.yorku.ca>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 14:49:18 -0400
Reply-To: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Sam Lanfranco <lanfran@YORKU.CA>
Subject: Global Social Label - Proposal from ILO (fwd)

ILO Proposes New Measures To Promote Labor Rights

Paris AFP, 1600 GMT 22 Apr 1997

Geneva, April 22 (AFP) - The International Labour Organization is proposing a new set of concrete rules to invigorate its drive to promote social progress along with trade liberalization, ILO Director General Michel Hansenne said here Tuesday. Chief among the new measures is a "global social label" that would be awarded to countries which show comprehensive respect for fundamental labour rights and principles, Hansenne said.

Hansenne acknowledged that many private initiatives were currently being deployed, directed at improving working conditions. However, he said such intiatives risked being ambiguous and arbitrary. By benefitting some workers and perhaps leaving others outside of their scope, "we cannot be sure that they will not lead to some kind of disguised protectionism" he told journalists.

A global social label controlled by the ILO is a "better alternative," Hansenne said, adding that it would include a system of "legally autonomous international inspections," under the framework of a Convention.

The label idea is one of three steps promulgated in an ILO report issued Tuesday and which will be submitted to the annual International Labour Conference to be held in Geneva in June.

The other core "moral" weapons in the ILO's planned armoury to promote humane conditions along with economic globalization are:

  • promoting ratification of the seven existing ILO conventions
  • a new Declaration complementing the ILO Constitution
  • periodic reports by the ILO on social progress or the lack of it in member states.

The United States has not yet ratified all of the texts, which Hansenne called a "problem. They have not ratified a certain number of principal conventions befcause they say this would give rise to a whole number of legal problems."

The idea of a Declaration, aimed to be adopted in 1998, is to provide strengthened "supervisory mechanisms" to promote ILO principles. "We hope for a consensus among members," Hansenne said.

The ILO's aim that all workers should share in the fruits of globalization could be monitored through regular reports by the ILO.

Tripartite debates -- between labour unions, governments and employers -- after such reports are issued would allow the public to evaluate the efforts made in each country to translate the economic development resulting from trade liberalization into genuine social progress, Hansenne said. The liberalization of trade "must go hand-in-hand with social progress," Hansenne said, adding "there must be evidence that its promises are not vain or illusory."

The ILO was given a strong mandate to deal with the issue of promoting social progress along with trade liberalization at the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Singapore last December.