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Thank you chair.
I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Serbia* and Albania* and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this Statement.
We attach great importance to human rights, including freedom of association and abolition of forced labour, and we are supportive of the important role played by the ILO in developing, promoting and supervising International Labour Standards. The European Union as well as its Member States are engaged in the promotion of universal ratification and implementation of the ILO core Labour Standards.
We welcome Myanmar/Burma progress on democratic transition, the reinvigoration of the peace process and the positive steps taken by the new government to improve human rights, including labour rights. As a reconfirmation of its strong support for accompanying the country on its democratic path and reforms, in June 2016 the EU adopted a new strategy with Myanmar/Burma that identifies, inter alia, human rights and economic engagement as key areas of engagement. Economic and labour market reforms are key to increased competitiveness which can bring about development and employment opportunities and promote fundamental labour rights and practices.
We look forward to the next EU/Myanmar Human Rights Dialogue that will take place in November in Brussels. Together with the government, the US, Denmark, Japan and the International Labour Organisation, the EU also actively participates in the Myanmar labour rights Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labour Rights and Practices in the country. We welcome the strong engagement of all participants in the second Stakeholders' Forum that took place in Yangon in September.
The EU emphasizes the importance of promoting gender equality and the rights of women and girls in the country. Its specific objectives include ending violence against and human trafficking of women and girls, improving the policy influence of women in the peace-building process and in political processes related to the country's development, and ensuring girls' right to education.
We welcome the extension of the Supplementary Understanding, which was signed yesterday by the Government until December 2017 and we look forward to a swift revision of the Memorandum of Understanding as the basis for a revitalized and strengthened Action Plan. We believe it is important that the complaint mechanism is operational, as complaints continue to be received, in particular at the local level, in rural areas. It is a signal that the issue is still present, but also that all actors are doing their part in raising awareness on the issue and contributing to an increased confidence of society in the mechanism.
We note that according to the 2015 labour force Survey, 5% of children are still engaged in hazardous forms of child labour. We urge the ILO to discuss strategies and actions with the Government and the social partners to build on the excellent work carried out so far and further reduce this number.
We also believe that the intensification of public awareness activities and the training of relevant government personnel, at both State and local levels, including the military, are crucial to work towards the elimination of forced labour in the country. All justice institutions, and the police, need to be effective in enforcing legislation.
With regard to the promotion of freedom of association, we welcome ILO’s capacity-building projects, as well as the new labour market governance project which encompasses both legal and institutional reforms. We support the labour law reform process that is currently taking place.
In this new environment conducive to ILO’s strengthened involvement, we welcome the new Framework for ILO's future engagement in the country and its four pillars of work. We hope that this comprehensive programme will enable the elimination of forced labour and ensure successful promotion of freedom of association, as well as improved labour market governance.
We support the decision point as amended to clarify the timeline for the implementation of the supplementary understanding and the renewal of the action plan as amended.
Thank you chair.
*The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.