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(2000) SESSION

These extracts are from the Provisional Verbatim record of the morning and 
afternoon sessions of 11 June 2001 of the Committee on the Application of 
Standards (Doc Nos. C.App./PV.7 and 8). These records will undergo further 
editing and will eventually be issued as Provisional Records as well as in 
a special Part Three of the Committee's report to the Conference.

The sitting lasted about eight hours. Many statements from workers, 
employers and governments recapitulated the history of the ILO's action on 
forced labour in Burma. Many stated that forced labour continues and 
described the practice. Most welcomed the proposed visit of an ILO 
High-Level Team (HLT) to the country. Some congratulated Burma for its 
cooperation with the ILO. Some criticised particular countries and 
companies for their commercial involvement in Burma. Others congratulated 
countries which had taken action in response to the ILC's request, while 
calling for more to be done. Some spoke strongly in favour of sanctions. 
Others spoke against sanctions. Some stressed the importance of witness 
protection. There were several references in the debate to the importance 
of the HLT's access to all persons it wished to meet, including Daw Aung 
San Suu Kyi.

These extracts do not, of course, do justice to a long debate. Most are 
selected either because they represent important positions on the 
conditions under which the ILC measures might be lifted, make specific 
recommendations on the modalities of the proposed visit of the HLT, are 
from countries particularly important for Burma  or make important points 
not otherwise covered in the Conclusion, which is the key document (see 
full text, below).


Mr. U MYA THAN, REPRESENTATIVE OF MYANMAR " ? urged the Committee to 
recommend to the 282nd Session of the Governing Body that it should review 
the measures taken under article 33 of the ILO Constitution in the light of 
the outcome of the visit of the High-Level Team, with a view to removing 
those measures."

THE WORKER MEMBERS "emphasised that all three aspects of the Commission of 
Inquiry's recommendations must be implemented in full before any 
consideration could be given to ending the measures adopted by last year's 
Conference under article 33 of the ILO Constitution. This meant that the 
legal framework providing for the widespread use of forced labour had to be 
eliminated, the practice itself had to be demonstrably eliminated and all 
those found to be responsible for using forced labour had to be punished. 
Until such actions were taken, the regime had to be made to understand that 
the ILO would remain vigilant. ?

"?.the first part of the second section of the Committee of Experts' report 
expressed the repeated concern that those most responsible for the use of 
forced labour, namely the military, did not appear to be affected by these 
Orders. The Worker members had heard the Government representative's 
statement that the military authorities no longer made use of forced 
labour. The fact was, however, that the military remained somehow above the 
law. This had of course, been the reality in the country for many decades. 
And until this situation was remedied, forced labour would continue" ....

"The Worker members reminded governments that the issue before the 
Committee, as it had been for almost 40 years, was not political 
normalization, but the eradication of forced labour inside Burma. This was 
the sole measure that the Committee must use to assess the effectiveness of 
steps being taken by the regime, and as long as there was evidence of 
forced labour, then the measures taken under article 33 must continue. To 
weaken or eliminate those measures prematurely might do irreparable damage 
to the ILO at a time when the ability of the ILO to enforce its own 
standards was being called into question."

CROATIA AND NORWAY) said that  "On many occasions, the European Union had 
made it clear that, in order for the Conference to lift the measures taken 
under article 33 of the ILO Constitution, it needed to be assured that 
forced labour was completely eliminated. Only the ILO could make such an 
assessment. The European Union had urged the Government to resume its 
cooperation with the ILO and to allow a full-time ILO presence in the 
country with a view to verifying whether the Government had put an end to 
the practice of forced labour?"

MALAYSIA (FOR ASEAN) "?noted the political will of the Government to 
resolve the issue?concluded that the 282nd Session of the Governing Body in 
November 2001 should review the measures taken by the ILO under article 33 
of the Constitution in the light of the outcome of the objective 
assessment, with a view to removing those measures?"

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA said that "?The understanding reached with the 
Government in May 2001 was a step in the right direction. But the 
usefulness and effectiveness of the visit of the High-Level Team would 
depend on the extent to which the Government fulfilled the commitments that 
it had undertaken. It had agreed to accord the High-Level Team its full 
cooperation. Such cooperation must include, at a minimum, the right of the 
Team to meet with whomsoever it wished, in closed and confidential session 
if it so desired, and the right of all persons who wished to meet with the 
Team to do so without fear of retaliation against themselves or their 
families. Anything less would tend to case doubt on the credibility of the 
Team's efforts, which would serve neither the interests of the country nor 
those of the ILO ?..

"Meanwhile, all the provisions of that resolution remained in effect and 
should continue to be implemented, including steps to ensure that the issue 
was discussed at the forthcoming session of the United Nations Economic and 
Social Council."

THE NETHERLANDS "?would continue to monitor carefully the forced labour 
situation and was convinced that, in the absence of a concrete and clear 
improvement in the situation, it was too early to exclude the possibility 
of further measures"

THE WORKER MEMBER OF JAPAN "?called upon the Government of Japan to put 
pressure on the Government to guarantee its people freedom from all kinds 
of suppression and for the restoration of democracy. An important meeting 
had been held in Tokyo earlier in the year on further trade union action on 
the question. It had been decided to implement a programme of action to 
promote and strengthen the ILO resolution and to request the Government of 
Japan to review its relations with the country. Trade union representatives 
had proposed that Japanese overseas development aid should be strictly 
limited to humanitarian purposes and used cautiously so as to ensure that 
it did not promote the use of forced labour. ?He expressed deep concern 
about the resumption of Japanese overseas development aid to the country, 
which had been halted in 1998 after the takeover of the military regime, 
and especially the grant for the repair of the Baluchaung hydroelectric 
power station. The aid was still premature?."

INDIA said that "?The flexibility and constructive approach shown by the 
Government of Myanmar were to be appreciated. This development underscored 
yet again the need to abnegate the punitive approach and to pursue the path 
of dialogue and technical cooperation"

THE UNITED KINGDOM said that "?It was to be hoped that the Governing Body 
in November 2001` would note that some progress had been made from the 
report of the High Level Team. However, if this was not the case, the 
Government of the United Kingdom would be willing to take further steps"

LORD BRETT (UK, WORKER MEMBER) welcomed the visit of the HLT but "wondered 
if it would not be better for the High Level Team to undertake this mission 
a little later when the monsoon season was over ... wondered if it might 
not be better to appoint five members rather than three?a single visit of a 
three-week duration might prove insufficient?Preferably a permanent ILO 
presence in the country could well prove necessary?full cooperation from 
the Government of Myanmar in providing access for the High Level Team to 
the border areas. A very important issue was the protection of witnesses. 
Those who were accused might seek reprisals?"

JAPAN?"considered that a constructive approach with the Government of 
Myanmar was the only one that would solve the problem prevailing in that 
country?The Government of Japan was constantly in touch with Myanmar at 
several level in order to remind it of the need to cooperate with the 
ILO?[H]is Government's relationship with Myanmar, including in the form of 
development assistance, did not in any way induce, directly, or indirectly, 
forced labour in that country. In this regard, he emphasized that the 
assistance provided by the Japanese Government to repair the Baluchaung 
Hydropower Station was only intended to prevent, in the future, further 
damage being caused to the general population by the deterioration of the 
said dam"

THE WORKER MEMBERS "?considered that  [the High-Level Team] should meet 
certain criteria. It should be composed of people with a high degree of 
expertise on the subject, including at least one of the members of the 
Commission of Inquiry, and participation by the International Labour 
Standards Department. It should be big enough to cover the different 
regions of the country and the various types of forced labour which had 
been identified. It should have access to all the information, persons and 
places that it wished both inside and outside the country. It should have 
interpreters available. It should be guaranteed that witnesses would enjoy 
effective protection and it should be allowed to choose an appropriate 
period to undertake its mission. The worker members were at pains to 
emphasize that the mission to be carried out by that Team should under no 
circumstances be regarded as the end but rather the beginning of a process. 
The Organization must pursue the examination of this case assiduously and 
undertake the objective evaluation of the implementation of the three 
recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry. Further missions would be 
necessary for that purpose. In conclusion, the government representative 
who spoke on behalf of the European Union deserved support when he stated 
that the measures taken in application of article 33 of the Constitution 
could only be lifted if forced labour was genuinely abolished and the 
recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry effectively implemented?".

MYANMAR, referring to the timing of the visit, said that "other dates were 
also possible such as the month of October ? with regard to the protection 
of witnesses, these were fully protected by the existing provisions of the 
Penal Code. In this respect, the legal system of the country was inherited 
from the British legal system and was therefore very solid."


"The Committee held a special sitting on the application by Myanmar of the 
Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), further to the resolution adopted 
by the International Labour conference at its 88th Session, concerning the 
application of article 33 of the Constitution. It noted the oral and 
written information submitted by the Government, and the discussion which 
followed. It recalled that this case had been discussed repeatedly in the 
Committee before the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry under article 
26 of the Constitution, and deplored the lack of progress towards the 
elimination of forced and compulsory labour. The Committee noted the 
results of the Director-General's appeals to the ILO constituents, 
including employers' and workers' organizations, to review their relations 
with the Government of Myanmar in order to ensure that the Government of 
Myanmar could not take advantage of relations with them to perpetuate or 
extend the system of forced or compulsory labour referred to by the 
Commission of Inquiry. It also noted that, according to information 
submitted tot he Governing Body in March 2001 and to the Committee, forced 
and compulsory labour was still being imposed on the citizens of the 
country. The Committee recalled that the Commission of Inquiry had called 
upon the Government to halt all use of forced and compulsory labour, to 
amend its legislation to render the practice illegal, and to punish all 
those who imposed forced labour. The Committee noted that Order No. 1/99 as 
supplemented by the Order of 27 October 2000 was a relevant but 
insufficient basis for improving legislation. The conditions spelled out by 
the Committee of Experts should be applied in good faith, and further 
measures would be needed to ensure that this was in fact done. The 
Committee welcomed the Government's decision to resume cooperation with the 
ILO. In this regard, it noted with interest that a recent mission by 
representatives of the director-General (17-19 May 2001) had concluded an 
understanding for an objective assessment of the situation of forced labour 
following measures announced by the Government of Myanmar, and that the 
results of this objective assessment were to be bought before the Governing 
Body at its November 2001 session. It was pointed out that this was only a 
beginning, and the Committee called upon the Government once again to take 
all possible measures with the greatest urgency to eliminate forced and 
compulsory labour in all its forms, in following the recommendations of the 
Commission of Inquiry; to punish those responsible for imposing forced 
labour; and to give full cooperation to the High Level Team which was to 
carry out the objective assessment referred to above. The Committee 
emphasized that, taking into account the discussion in the Committee, the 
High Level Team should: (1) have sufficient authority to programme its 
activities; (2) have an appropriate composition which will allow the work 
to be distributed among its members; (3) be selected within the sole 
discretion of the Director-General; (4) be able to carry out its 
investigation in all the places of the country which it considered 
necessary to visit; and (5) have unrestricted access to all necessary 
sources of information. Those people who provided information to the Team 
must enjoy full protection. It was also noted that the United Nations 
Economic and Social Council has been asked to discuss the situation at its 
July 2001 session. The Committee requested the Governing Body to assess the 
report of the High Level Team at its November 2001 session in order to 
consider what further steps were necessary to be taken at that time by the 
Government or by the ILO, and recalled that the Government should provide a 
detailed report to the Committee of Experts at its next session on all 
measures taken to ensure observance of the Convention in law and in practice.

"The Government representative of Myanmar asked that the closing remarks of 
the President reflect the positive comments regarding the agreement reached 
by the Government and the ILO on the modalities for the objective 
assessment which had been made by delegates, including a number of Workers' 
delegates. This would introduce better balance into the text. He suggested 
therefore that the sentence in the conclusions beginning with "In this 
regard, it noted with interest ?" read "In this regard, it noted with 
appreciation ?". He also suggested that the phrase concerning Order No. 
1/99 reflect the original wording of the Committee of Experts which read 
that the Order "? could provide a statutory basis for ensuring compliance 
with the Convention in practice ?" [paragraph 7]. The experts, who are 
internationally recognized independent persons, had made an objective 
assessment in moderate language which should be retained.

"The Employer members proposed to insert a paragraph in the general part of 
the Committee's report to the Conference to indicate that the Committee had 
held a special sitting on the issue of forced labour in Myanmar. The 
proceedings of this sitting should be reproduced in a special Part Three of 
the report. The Worker members agreed with this proposal."


Extracts from the





"In view of the demonstrated genuine political will and commitment of the 
Myanmar Government and its comprehensive and effective measures in this 
regard, it would be highly appreciated, if the member States and the 
delegates could kindly extend their support to Myanmar, as they have in the 

"(a) by making brief intervention at the meeting of the Committee on the 
Application of Standards in the 89th ILC in support of Myanmar and calling 
upon the 282nd Session of the Governing Body, to be held in November 2001, 
to review the question of Myanmar on the basis of the report of the HLT 
with a view to removing the measures taken by the Organization under 
article 33 of the ILO Constitution; and

"(b) by opposing any attempt to inscribe the question of the alleged use of 
forced labour in Myanmar on the agenda of the substantive session of 2001 
of the ECOSOC, to be held in Geneva from 2 to 27 July 2001, and by 
supporting a no-action motion on the proposal to inscribe the item on the 
agenda of the ECOSOC, in the event that such a formal proposal is tabled, 
and by supporting any other procedural motions necessary to prevent such an 
unwarranted move."