European Union External Action

ILO Governing Body - EU Statement on Follow-up to the resolutions concerning Myanmar adopted by the International Labour Conference at its 102nd (2013) and 109th (2021) Sessions

Geneva, 08/11/2021 - 16:04, UNIQUE ID: 211108_15
Statements on behalf of the EU

Thank you, Chairperson.

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

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania*, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, and the EFTA country Switzerland, align themselves with this statement.

The European Union and its Member States thank the ILO Office for the overview of developments in Myanmar since their last report in June 2021.

The EU and its Member States continue to condemn the military coup in Myanmar in the strongest terms and again call on the military to respect the result of last year’s election. We remain deeply concerned by widespread human rights violations by the military, including violence against peaceful protestors and arbitrary detentions. We are equally concerned about acts of intimidation, threats and acts of grave violence and torture against trade unionists, and others supporting the return of Myanmar to its democratic path.

We welcome the emergency resolution adopted by the International Labour Conference last June, which showed a joint, tripartite commitment to the protection of human rights, including labour rights, in Myanmar.

The European Union and its Member States continue to fully support ASEAN’s efforts to secure a peaceful return of Myanmar to its democratic path and call on the military to engage constructively with the ASEAN Special Envoy for a swift and full implementation of the ASEAN Five Point Consensus. We also reiterate our full support for the efforts of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Myanmar. We underline that a meaningful political dialogue must include all relevant stakeholders and emphasise the crucial role of the ILO and its constituents in advancing and complementing these endeavours with respect to the world of work and social protection.

The EU and its Member States firmly stand with the people of Myanmar and reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and all those detained and sentenced in connection with the coup, including many trade unionists and human rights’ defenders, the establishment of a genuine political dialogue and a peaceful return to the country’s democratic path and the rule of law.

We are deeply concerned about the escalation of armed conflict, significant deployment of the armed forces in rural areas, and an increase in clashes, causing civilian casualties and displacement, and call for an immediate end to the violence and the full respect of human rights. Perpetrators of violations of human rights, including sexual and gender-based violence, have to be held accountable and brought to justice.

We note with utmost concern the possibility of the military authorities’ withdrawal from the Memorandum of Understanding of the Myanmar Decent Work Country Programme, even if the most recent notice of termination has since been withdrawn, and we urge the military to continue this engagement as to do otherwise would undermine all tripartite efforts in the country in working towards a return to the process of democratisation.

We regret that severe violations of human rights, including labour rights such as freedom of association, freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of assembly and peaceful protest are impeding the work of workers’ and employers’ organisations. We continue to urge Myanmar to uphold fully and without delay its obligations under Convention No. 87 and to ensure that workers’ and employers’ organizations are able to exercise their rights in a climate of freedom and security, free from violence, arbitrary arrest, and detention.

We also note with concern that the ongoing conflict has contributed to the rising unemployment and, therefore, a deterioration of workers' economic situation, particularly in female-dominated industries like garment manufacturing sector, thus increasing their vulnerability for exploitation.

We express our deep concern over the continued cases of forced labour, which constitute grave human rights violations under international law and ILO’s Conventions and which by some reports are now becoming even more frequent. This is also reflected in the fact of relisting of Myanmar in the 2021 annual report  of  the Secretary-General of the United Nations on children severely affected by armed conflict.

We continue to urge Myanmar to uphold fully and without delay its obligations under all conventions it ratified, including the Forced Labour Convention 29.

The EU and its Member States will continue to provide humanitarian assistance in Myanmar, in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, including urgent aid to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. It urges the military authorities to ensure rapid, safe and unhindered access to all displaced persons and people in need, including by ensuring the safety of humanitarian and health workers.

The protected status of international missions in Yangon must also be guaranteed. We deeply regret the difficulties the ILO Liaison Office, other international organizations and NGO’s continue to face in carrying out its work in the country.

With the above, we support the decision point as presented in point 39 with subsequent amendment by the Office. We would like to ask for a sub‑amendment with regard to US proposal in point (a) by the following wording “and called for restoration of democratic transition and civilian rule in Myanmar”. Reference to the military authorities in the context of sub‑paragraph (a) might be perceived as providing undesired legitimacy. We accept the US amendment in point (h) as proposed.

Thank you, Chair.

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*The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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