BANGKOK (ILO News): An ILO High Level Team, headed by former Governor-General of Australia Sir Ninian Stephen, departed Bangkok today for Myanmar where they will spend three weeks in the country assessing actions by the Government concerning forced labour.
The High Level Team will spend the first few days having meetings in the capital, Yangon, and will then travel to various places around the country to investigate the situation.
The team is composed of: The Right Honourable Sir Ninian STEPHEN of Australia (Chairperson); Ms. Nieves ROLDAN-CONFESOR of the Philippines (Vice-Chairperson); and Mr. Kulatilaka Arthanayake Parinda RANASINGHE of Sri Lanka and Mr. Jerzy MAKARCZYK of Poland, as members.
This is the first time that the ILO has had an opportunity to travel around the country to make its own direct assessment of the forced labour situation. The team’s specific mandate is to assess the practical implementation and actual impact on that situation of various legislative, executive and administrative measures announced by the Government in response to previous ILO action.
The establishment of the team, which was agreed in May and considered by the International Labour Conference at its June 2001 session, is a new and significant development which follows a series of steps taken by the ILO’s competent bodies to secure compliance by Myanmar with its obligations under ILO Convention No. 29 (1930) concerning forced labour.
Under the terms of the understanding reached with the Myanmar authorities in May, the team will have full discretion to establish a programme of such contacts and visits as it considers appropriate across the country.
The Myanmar authorities have also made a solemn commitment through the team to the international community that no action of any kind will be taken against persons or their families, or organizations who may contribute information to the team or assist it in its work, nor will the authorities seek to identify such persons. The team has itself also put in place certain precautionary measures as regards persons whom it may wish to contact.
The team’s report will be considered by the ILO Governing Body which will meet in Geneva in November.
Biographical information of the team is as follows:
Chair: The Right Honourable Sir Ninian STEPHEN, KG, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, PC (Australia), former Governor-General of Australia; former Justice of the High Court of Australia; former Chairman, Strand Two of the Talks on Northern Ireland; former Judge of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; former Commonwealth of Nations Special Envoy to Bangladesh; former Chairman, United Nations Expert Group on Cambodia; former Australian Special Ambassador for the Environment; former Chairman, Constitutional Centenary Foundation; former Chairman, Antarctic Foundation; former Chairman, National Library of Australia; former Chairman, Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman Council; Chair, Australian Citizenship Council; Chair, Australian Blood and Blood Products Review; member of the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee.
Vice-Chair: Ms. Nieves ROLDAN-CONFESOR (Philippines), former Philippines Secretary of Labour and Employment; former Presidential Adviser on International Labour Affairs; former Chair, ILO Governing Body; former board member of the Landbank of the Philippines, the Social Security Commission, the National Wages and Productivity Commission, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Philippine Agrarian Reform Council, and the National Economic Planning Council; former head of the Panel of Experts to the Congressional Commission on Labour; former Chair, ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting; expert-adviser to the ILO Governing Body on the follow up to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work; member of the Operating Council of the Global Alliance for Workers and Their Communities; faculty member, Asian Institute of Management.
Member: Mr. Kulatilaka Arthanayake Parinda RANASINGHE (Sri Lanka), former Chief Justice of Sri Lanka; former member of Judicial Tribunal to inquire into allegations made against the then Head of the Judiciary of Malaysia; former Visiting Expert, United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, Tokyo; member of several Arbitral Tribunals dealing with Commercial Arbitration; President, Sri Lanka Chapter of the Asia Crime Prevention Foundation.
Member: Mr. Jerzy MAKARCZYK, LL.D (Poland), Judge, European Court of Human Rights; Professor of Public International Law, Institute of Legal Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences; former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; former Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; in charge of negotiations with USSR and then Russia on withdrawal of troops from Polish territory; in charge of negotiations for the admission of Poland to the Council of Europe; former President, International Law Association; associate member, Institute of International Law; has given lectures, seminars and acted as a consultant at various universities in Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and the Philippines.