European Union Election Observation Mission
Pakistan 2018

ILO Technical Meeting on Achieving Decent Work in Global Supply Chains - EU Opening Statement

Geneva, 25/02/2020 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 200310_5
Statements on behalf of the EU

Thank you, Chair.

I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The EU and its Member States would like to thank the office for the comprehensive background report for this technical Meeting on Achieving Decent Work in Global Supply Chains.

The EU and its Member States attach great importance to this subject, which is instrumental to the worldwide promotion of decent work. We recall the fruitful discussions on promoting Decent Work in Global Supply Chains during the 2016 ILC leading to ambitious conclusions, as well as conclusions of the meetings of experts to promote decent work in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and on Cross‑border Social Dialogue. We have actively participated in all these discussions on global supply chains and it is vital that the implementation of the conclusions of these meetings advances without delay.

We consider that the tripartite consensus that underpins these outcomes contributes to the effective promotion of inclusive and sustainable approaches agreed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably those on sustainable production, sustainable consumption and decent work, and to an intensified international cooperation on responsible business conduct. We also deem important the extensive references these meetings made to the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy and the Integrated Strategy on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

We also believe that the reference contained in the ILO Centenary Declaration for the future of work (2019) regarding the role of the ILO in the context of domestic and global supply chains is an important step for the promotion of decent work along global supply chains. The EU has formally acknowledged this linkage, with the Council of the European Union having endorsed this reference to global supply chains in its conclusions on the ILO Centenary Declaration last October.

In these conclusions, the European Union and its Member States recognise the important role of multinational enterprises, to encourage and foster responsible as well as sustainable management in global supply chains, including through corporate social responsibility, due diligence with respect to human rights, and the promotion of decent work and social and labour protection. The conclusions also refer to the communication of what is expected from enterprises with respect to responsible business conduct and consider whether specific measures are necessary when these expectations are not met in an appropriate way.

However, while we refer to the outcomes of the previous meetings, it is important not to dwell too much on past discussions and keep focus on the core objective of this meeting, as defined in the paragraph 25 of the 2016 ILC conclusions which recognise that “There is concern that current ILO standards may not be fit for purpose to achieve decent work in global supply chains. Therefore, the ILO should review this issue.

As recognised in the 2016 ILC Conclusions “the ILO is uniquely positioned to address governance gaps in global supply chains so that they can fulfil their potential as ladders for development.”. In its efforts it needs to complement and build on other relevant multilateral guidance instruments initiatives in the field(such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD MNE Guidelines, UN Global Compact), and cooperate with various national and international initiatives, development organizations and established multi‑stakeholder-initiatives like Alliance 8.7. The cross-cutting nature of these initiatives makes it even more vital to promote synergies and avoid duplications in the international efforts to govern decent work in global supply chains.

The EU and its Member States recognise the significant work the ILO has done so far, which we reflected on during the recent discussion on the mid-term report on the implementation of the programme of action on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains. We then underlined the importance that the Office coordinates and steers the supply-chain-related activities of the different technical fields toward a “One ILO” approach and the establishment of working groups focusing on particular sectors. We also welcomed the development of the approach that draws on the expertise and experience from the Better Work, SCORE and Vision Zero Fund programmes as well as the projects to improve the knowledge base on safety and health in global supply chains. In this regard, we note the importance of tripartite cooperation and further encourage effective cooperation with the private sector. Furthermore, aspects of impact measurement and the development of an appropriate methodology need to be further developed. The approach proposed in the case of data driven engagement model for electronics sector in Mexico which enables informed multi-stakeholder effort provides an inspiring example.

Chair, the ILO has a central role to play in the promotion of decent work in global supply chains. While we welcome the work that has been done so far, we strongly believe it is time to accelerate these efforts and provide the ILO with new impetus in promotion of the decent work in global supply chains. We look forward to a constructive meeting that will result in forward looking conclusions to address paragraph 25 of the 2016 ILC conclusions that will further stimulate awareness and commitment by the ILO and its constituents, as well as by multinational enterprises.

Thank you, Chair.

Editorial Sections: