Thank you, Chairperson.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia[*], Montenegro[*] and Albania[*] as well as the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
The EU and its Member States are committed to the promotion, protection and respect of human rights and labour rights, including freedom of association, of assembly and abolition of forced labour. We support the indispensable role played by the ILO in developing, promoting and supervising the application of international labour standards and of fundamental Conventions in particular. The EU and its Member States are also committed to the promotion of universal ratification, effective implementation and enforcement of the core labour standards.
We thank the ILO for its constant engagement in promoting labour rights in Myanmar. In this regard, we note the discernible progress the country has made on the Decent Work Agenda since the recent discussion during the GB in March this year, notably continuing the tripartite dialogue within the National Tripartite Dialogue Forum (NTDF), drawing up the new Action Plan for a National Complaints Mechanism relating to forced labour under the auspices of the Decent Work Country Programme, as well as adopting the new Child Rights Law in July 2019 and proposing to ratify the Minimum Age Convention C138.
We welcome the constructive dialogue between the EU and its Member States and the government on improving labour rights in the country. The EU and its Member States reconfirm their strong commitment to support Myanmar in this regard. In February 2019, the EU had a high-level mission to the country in the context of the enhanced engagement under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences arrangement for Least Developed Countries ("Everything But Arms"). This provided the opportunity for a comprehensive dialogue with national authorities, including on labour rights issues as well as with trade union and civil society.
However, while noting the progress, we would like to express our deep concern over the following issues:
Meanwhile, until NCM is set up cooperation with the ILO-led complaint mechanism has to continue. Progress notwithstanding, we regret that in 2019 ILO has received 48 complaints, which have been assessed as being within the definition of forced labour, including 39 cases of underage recruitment.
In addition to the above concerns, we also note with regret, that many UN organisations and mandate holders, development partners, as well as the Independent Investigative Mechanism (IIM), following-up on the work of Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar established by the Human Rights Council in March 2017, are facing travel restrictions or are even denied access to the country. This renders impossible any independent assessment of events and verification of information submitted by complainants, particularly in rural areas.
In summary, we have come to the conclusion that despite progress made in the last years on labour issues, the still remain unresolved. In particular, we urge the government to effectively address the use of forced labour by the Myanmar armed forces (Tatmadaw).
Chair, in light of the considerations and concerns raised above we can support the original decision point.
Thank you, Chair.
[*] The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.