ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

274th Session
Geneva, March 1999

Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards



General status report on ILO action concerning
discrimination in employment and occupation


I. Supervision of the application of standards concerning discrimination

II. Office activities to promote equality of opportunity and treatment

III. Equality for women

IV. Migrant workers

V. Disabled workers

VI. Discrimination and indigenous and tribal peoples

VII. Discrimination and workers of the occupied Arab territories

1. Concerted efforts to consolidate and expand further the ILO's activities in the field of discrimination in employment and occupation have led to a number of ratifications and moves towards ratification of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), and the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156). Detailed information on the ratification and promotion of the fundamental ILO Conventions and the activities of the multidisciplinary teams in relation to standards has been submitted to the Committee at previous sessions and also at the current session.(1)  No doubt the adoption of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up will provide additional opportunities for the ILO and its constituents to promote equality of opportunity and treatment in employment.

I. Supervision of the application of standards
concerning discrimination

2. The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations continued to review the application of the above Conventions at its session in November-December 1998. As in previous years, the Committee addressed a significant number of direct requests and observations to governments, including a general observation on Convention No. 100. Reports submitted by governments reveal a growing concern with regard to the effective implementation of provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion, sex and ethnic origin. However, there is a significant disparity in the nature and extent of the information, including statistical data. Governments are increasingly seeking the assistance of the Office to overcome difficulties in implementing the principles contained in those Conventions.

Constitutional procedures

3. Over its past two sessions (272nd and 273rd Sessions, June and November 1998) the Governing Body has declared receivable a growing number of representations submitted by workers' organizations alleging non-observance of these Conventions (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ethiopia on Convention No. 111, Bolivia and Mexico on Convention No. 169), and has set up or decided to set up tripartite committees to examine them; this sudden increase may reveal a trend towards heightened concern over discriminatory laws and practices on the grounds of ethnic origin and sex. At its 272nd Session (June 1998), the Governing Body adopted the reports of the tripartite committees it had set up to examine a representation on the application by Mexico of Convention No. 169, and of a representation on the application by Spain of Convention No. 111.

II. Office activities to promote
equality of opportunity and treatment

4. Tripartite activities to promote ILO standards on equality of opportunity and treatment took place in the last year in various countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Namibia, South Africa, Thailand and Ukraine. The Office paper on the activities of the multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) in relation to standards, submitted to the Committee in November 1998,(2)  provided additional information on the large number of activities concerning the promotion of equality of opportunity in employment. Subregional tripartite activities have also been placed on the 1999 programme in Trinidad and Tobago and Zimbabwe.(3)  At the national level, consultations held with the Government of the Republic of Korea on the ratification of core Conventions in April 1998 resulted in the ratification of Convention No. 111; and in response to the Government of China's request for technical assistance on the ratification of this Convention, a series of national tripartite workshops on Convention No. 111 will start in April 1999.

5. The Norway-funded technical cooperation project on affirmative action in employment in Namibia, intended to overcome the lingering effects of apartheid on employment, is now completing its last phase. The crowning achievement of the project has been the adoption and promulgation of the Affirmative Action (Employment) Act, No. 29 of 1998. The Equality and Human Rights Coordination Branch (EGALITE), together with the MDT in Harare (SAMAT) and the Area Office in Pretoria are continuing to backstop the last phase of this three-year project, which is expected to come to a close this year, including the training of 15 Employment Equity Commissioners and 15 Department of Labour staff (inspectors and review officers) who will be responsible for enforcement of the Act's provisions.

6. In South Africa, the Office's technical assistance on the drafting of new legislation bore fruit with the adoption of the Employment Equity Act, No. 55 of 1998. The Act bans unfair discrimination in employment on a wide range of grounds (including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language and birth), and requires affirmative action measures in favour of black people, women and persons with disabilities. The Office is currently advising the Department in the area of employment equity training. A draft project in the pipeline would use national and international expertise to inform the stakeholders of their obligations under the Act, and on the business sense of good employment equity plans.

7. EGALITE, together with the Turin Centre and the ILO Office in Islamabad, will be assisting in the implementation of a project in Pakistan on "Human rights: An Institutional Capacity Building Project", which is scheduled to take place during 1999.

8. Technical advice on equality issues has recently been provided on new or revised legislation submitted to the Office from 14 countries for comment in relation to ratified Conventions and on potential new ratifications. The Office has continued to submit regular written and oral reports on its activities to the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies, as well as to the "treaty bodies" established to monitor the application of United Nations instruments. It has also maintained close relations with these bodies and has taken part in discussions relating to a variety of human rights subjects. The Office has submitted periodic reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, all of which include the subject of discrimination. Contributions have also been made regularly to projects designed by the International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin, which have a bearing on equality issues. The Office also continued to collaborate in the field of standards with the United Nations and its bodies, and with other specialized agencies.(4) 

9. Office publications in 1998 on this subject include --

10. The Office has informed the United Nations that the ILO will take an active part in the upcoming World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which is expected to be held no later than 2001. The Office is awaiting indications from the United Nations that the preparatory phase is to begin.

III. Equality for women

11. A shift has occurred in the gender training activities organized by the Office of the Special Adviser on Women Workers' Questions (FEMMES). Whereas in previous years emphasis was laid on constituents' training in how to promote gender equality, in 1998 several major workshops took place to enhance the ILO staff's own capacity to mainstream gender concerns in their work and programmes. FEMMES has increasingly emphasized that gender training is a means of ensuring that the ILO provides gender-sensitive and gender-responsive services to its constituents. In the regions, one assessment and training workshop was held in Manila for ILO staff in the Area Office and MDT, and a regional consultation workshop for all gender focal points and associate experts was organized in Africa in conjunction with the Regional Office and the senior specialist on women and gender questions. At headquarters, a unique participatory approach was implemented to prepare and carry out a tailor-made information and gender analysis workshop with the Industrial Relations and Labour Administration Department. At the Turin Centre, two meetings were organized: one workshop on experience sharing and capacity building brought together the headquarters focal points on gender issues. At an interregional consultation and strategic planning meeting, the regional senior specialists, associate experts on gender and gender focal points from all the regions participated to share their experience and lessons learned on gender mainstreaming. Several tripartite workshops were held on the subject in various regions.

12. The posts of senior gender specialists on women and gender questions have been filled in the MDTs in Manila and Bangkok. It is hoped that appointments to other vacant posts will soon be made.

13. FEMMES continued coordinating the interregional project funded by the Netherlands on the dissemination of women workers' rights. Several countries (China, Egypt, El Salvador, Hungary and Zimbabwe, and recently, Suriname and Viet Nam) completed the cycle of training activities established in their work plans, and groups of resource persons are now using and adapting the training materials in their own institutional contexts. India and Mali, which joined the project at a later stage, are continuing their activities until the end of the interregional project in March 1999. At the final evaluation workshops, many found that for the first time a social dialogue on gender equality had been established among the tripartite constituency; this was considered a very positive achievement of the project. In addition, many members of the national steering committees and the officials trained as resource persons and trainers had no knowledge of gender issues before the project started; now they considered themselves as advocates of gender issues in their organizations.

14. It is evident from the review of the activities of the MDTs that gender and equality issues have been part of the general programme on international labour standards. Several activities were held to promote women workers' rights in Costa Rica, the Republic of Korea, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Suriname, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe, including training sessions on sexual harassment issues in Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. In the Republic of Korea, the Office organized a workshop on labour standards and Korean labour law for women trade union leaders. Another workshop on core standards, including Conventions Nos. 100 and 111, was organized in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. A regional seminar on improving the terms of employment, status and working conditions of domestic workers in the Caribbean was held in Jamaica. One major output is a Strategy for the Caribbean to improve the terms of employment, conditions and status of domestic workers. In addition, EGALITE is cooperating with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on a project entitled "Facilitating Women's Economic and Political Empowerment in the Caribbean through Communications"; one major output will be a joint UNIFEM/ILO information kit which relates women workers' rights to general human rights.

15. With regard to the promotion of equality in export processing zones (EPZs), the Tripartite Meeting of Export Processing Zone Operating Countries, (Geneva, 28 September-2 October 1998) took note of the high proportion of women employed in EPZs and the frequent absence of sufficient measures to address their needs. The Meeting drafted guidelines with a view to ensuring equality of opportunity and treatment in employment, providing adequate maternity protection and facilitating the combination of work and family responsibilities.

16. At its 87th Session in June 1999 the International Labour Conference will address the question of the revision of the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised) (No. 103), and Recommendation (No. 95), 1952. To this end, the Office has finalized Report V(1) for a first discussion by the Conference in 1999. It has also sought, compiled and analysed the views of constituents on the possible content of the new ILO instrument(s).(5) 

17. With regard to the activities related to Employment and gender equality in the context of structural adjustment and economic reform, supported by the Development Policies Department (POLDEV), national multi-sectoral task forces adopted action plans in the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe which identify priority areas for legislative reforms, employment promotion and social protection measures. Two memoranda of understanding were signed between the ILO and the Governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe respectively, providing the operational and institutional framework for technical cooperation in support of the action plans. In both countries, where labour laws are being reviewed and modified, a review of the gender aspects of existing and proposed legislation which affect employment is a top priority in the action plans. Furthermore, in Côte d'Ivoire a national tripartite policy workshop on employment promotion with gender equality in the context of structural adjustment was held in November 1998, and a national action plan was adopted. In Sri Lanka, data collection aimed at setting up a gender-disaggregated database on retrenched workers was launched, and preparatory activities for organizing a national tripartite debate on women's employment and economic reforms were initiated.

18. Within the framework of the programme of the Development Policies Department (POLDEV) on Homeworkers in the Global Economy, an action-research project was launched in Latin America. Country studies on the magnitude, nature, profile and regulatory framework of home work in eight Latin American countries were completed in 1998. Preparations were completed for a regional tripartite meeting scheduled for 1999, where social partners will be able to discuss the findings of the studies and identify future courses of action. In Asia, missions to Indonesia and the Philippines identified future practical action to address female homeworkers' needs in the fields of employment and social protection, specifically in the context of the current Asian crisis.

19. The ILO Action Programme on Improving the Quality of Women's Employment in the 1998-99 biennium aims to promote awareness and policy dialogue among constituents on emerging issues on the quality of employment in a global perspective, to review a range of feasible options and viable strategies for improving the quality of employment, and to define priority areas for follow-up action at the national and international levels. The programme focuses on four categories of employment: women workers in the informal sector, women workers engaged in atypical types of employment, women wage workers in export processing zones, and women migrant workers. A promotional video on issues and selected strategic responses for improving the quality of employment is in the production stage, and an effort to compile all available data on the quality of employment in the informal sector and atypical forms of employment is under way.

20. As a means of enhancing the capacity of ILO constituents to combat poverty and social exclusion from a gender perspective and with an employment-oriented focus, a comprehensive and multi-sectoral Capacity-building programme and training package on gender, poverty and employment was developed, covering nine thematic areas for action. A planning and validation workshop was held in February 1998 at the Turin Training Centre as a basis for fine-tuning and finalizing the training package. Revisions of the package were undertaken, and initial preparations for regional adaptation and implementation of the programme were carried out, for full implementation of the programme in 1999.

21. The Office continues to implement its activities under the International Programme on More and Better Jobs for Women, this being the ILO's contribution to the successful implementation of the Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995)(6)  and the gender dimensions of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995). More detailed information on the programme's activities can be found in papers submitted to the Committee on Technical Cooperation.(7) 

22. The Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) continued to strengthen the involvement and participation of women workers in its activities. The inclusion of gender and equality concerns in all activities is being closely monitored. Training, advisory services and projects are being executed to strengthen women's participation in trade unions. These include a regional project on workers' education assistance to strengthen trade union action on women workers in view of child labour in selected South-East Asian countries (Viet Nam, Thailand and Indonesia). The core activities of this project consist in developing training materials in the local languages on a variety of subjects, including the translation of relevant international labour standards; developing appropriate curricula for workers' education programmes on gender; and conducting "train-the-trainers" programmes and organizing campaigns to sensitize the rank and file on gender issues and the ill effects of child labour. A gender training workshop for regional staff of international trade secretariats in Africa was held in Kampala, Uganda. The main objective was to provide the participants with the necessary skills to integrate gender perspectives and equal opportunity policies into the education programmes, strategies and campaigns of their respective organizations. A guide on collective bargaining was developed and is being used in seminars, workshops and other promotional activities. The development of this guide was a joint effort between the Labour Law and Labour Relations Branch (LEG/REL) and ACTRAV.

23. The Bureau for Employers' Activities (ACT/EMP) takes a twofold approach to the promotion of gender equality in employment: it encourages employers' organizations and their member enterprises to design, adopt and implement equal employment opportunity policies at the workplace; and it is conducting education and training for women in order to get them more involved in enterprise activities both within enterprises and in starting and diversifying their own businesses. The Bureau continues to implement its NORAD-funded programme on the promotion of women in private sector activities through employers' organizations in six countries. In the Philippines, implementation of the work plans following gender training in 1997 is continuing, and a training guide has been developed and adapted to the local context. In Bangladesh, a series of research reports has been drafted on obstacles to equality in employment. In Mauritania, a Code of practice for gender equality has been developed taking into account the local context. In Jamaica, ACT/EMP, together with the MDT in Port-of-Spain (CAMAT), carried out gender training for public and private sector decision-makers and executives. The ACT/EMP brochure entitled As one employer to another . . . What's all this about EQUALITY? is now available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and several other languages.

24. Within the framework of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), the elimination of child labour in specific hazardous conditions, including commercial sexual exploitation, has become a major focus, and has a significant gender component as girl children are the most affected (though many boys also suffer from this). In this context, a programme on "combating the trafficking in children and their exploitation in prostitution and other intolerable forms of child labour in Asia" has compiled an analysis of child trafficking in eight countries. The two phases in the programme cover South Asia and the Mekong subregion. Action-oriented research was carried out in Cambodia, China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. A Mekong subregional consultation was organized from 22 to 24 July 1998 in Bangkok. Separate national studies were conducted in South Asia. The results of these research exercises will form the basis for subregional and country-specific activities. The ILO-IPEC programme to combat child trafficking will focus its action to target children under the age of 18 who are at risk or have been victims of such practices. Particular attention will have to be paid to vulnerable groups, such as children of migrants and ethnic minorities, tribal groups, the very young (under 12 years of age), and girls.

IV. Migrant workers

25. The ILO's activities relating to international migration for employment aim at providing support to migrant-sending and migrant-receiving countries in order to help them deal with current policy concerns, cooperate in the recruitment and return of migrant workers and improve the protection of migrant workers and members of their families. Indeed, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work recalls that migrant workers are among those with special social needs and thus requiring social protection. The promotion of the ILO standards concerning migrant workers is a prominent feature of all the activities undertaken. A key concern of these standards is non-discrimination and equality of opportunity and treatment.

26. The Office's activities have concentrated on promoting the principle of equality of treatment for migrant workers and the elimination of discrimination against them. However, the situation of migrant workers remains a matter of concern, particularly in countries that have not yet ratified any of the relevant Conventions and where national legislation and practice is often far from consistent with ILO principles. This was highlighted once more in the findings of the General Survey on the Conventions concerning migrant workers carried out in 1998, which will become available during the present session of the Governing Body and will be discussed at the Conference in June.

27. The development of migration for employment is becoming the focus of increased attention by ILO constituents, resulting in an increasing number of requests for technical assistance. The Conditions of Work Branch (CONDI/T) has been entrusted with leading the work of the Working Group on International Migration established by the ACC Task Force on Basic Social Services for All. Within the framework of this Working Group, a Technical Symposium on International Migration and Development was held in The Hague from 29 June to 3 July 1998, aimed at:

The report on the symposium(8)  was published in late 1998 and is expected to give rise to further requests for technical assistance from ILO constituents.

28. Over the past year the Office has participated in the work of the Working Group of Intergovernmental Experts on the Human Rights of Migrants of the UN Commission on Human Rights. The final report will be presented to the Commission in 1999. Possible collaboration with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) on a global programme on "trafficking in human beings", is being discussed.

29. Apart from its ongoing activities related to international migration for employment, the Office has engaged in activities aimed explicitly at promoting the protection of migrant workers and eradicating discrimination against them. An interregional technical cooperation project to combat discrimination against migrant workers and ethnic minorities in the world of work was launched in 1993. This focuses on industrialized migrant-receiving countries, and aims to tackle informal or de facto discrimination. Its research findings have provided evidence that this kind of discrimination is widespread and persistent. In 1998 a number of research reports were published and national seminars organized in countries participating in the project. A Tripartite Interregional Seminar on Achieving Equality for Migrant and Ethnic Minority Workers, scheduled for 28-30 October 1998, had to be postponed on account of the foreseen delay in the approval of external funding but it is now planned for the last quarter of this year.

30. In 1996 the Office launched the Informal network on foreign labour in Central and Eastern Europe. This ongoing project aims to strengthen governments' capacity to deal with international migration in the region. Within the framework of this project, issues related to the equal treatment of migrant workers and the position of nationals of the former USSR and its successor States were also considered. Their legal status is often undecided, resulting in a vulnerable position within the respective host societies and socio-economic marginalization. The assistance provided by the ILO through the network will include support in preparing laws, regulations and bilateral agreements and in carrying out labour force or enterprise surveys. In preparation for the High-Level Tripartite Meeting on Social Reform to the Financial Crisis in East and South-East Asia, the Office organized missions to assess the extent of the dislocation of migrant workers in the region and proposed measures to protect these basic rights.

31. Promotional work on the Conventions concerning migrant workers and the guidelines on special protective measures, as adopted by the 1997 Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Future ILO Activities in the Field of Migration and approved by the Governing Body at its 270th Session,(9)  has been incorporated in the Office's technical advisory services and research work.

V. Disabled workers

32. Among the objectives of the ILO are the promotion of employment for persons with disabilities and action to overcome discrimination based on physical and mental disability. Efforts in this regard require particular attention in an environment characterized by global competition and the deregulation of labour markets. While there has been significant progress concerning the occupational integration of persons with disabilities in both industrialized and developing countries, there is a need for the ILO to make a more comprehensive effort to ensure that such progress becomes a more generalized trend worldwide. To this end, the Vocational Rehabilitation Branch (REHAB) has begun intensive consultations with the principal international non-governmental organizations concerned with questions relating to disabled persons. This process of collaboration has been extended to selected national rehabilitation centres. One of the main objectives of these activities is to strengthen the way in which disability questions are managed in enterprises.(10) 

33. It should be recalled that the first General Survey on the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention (No. 159) and Recommendation (No. 168), 1983 was published in 1998 and discussed at the 86th Session (1998) of the International Labour Conference. As practical follow-up on the General Survey, REHAB plans to prepare a Code of practice on the management of disability-related issues in the workplace.

34. The ILO carried out a technical cooperation project from November 1996 to December 1998 in several Latin American countries in order to overcome discrimination against persons with disabilities and guarantee their equal access to vocational training institutions. In July 1998, national consultative meetings were held in Panama and the Dominican Republic with ILO constituents and the main NGOs, with the aim of developing national action programmes to promote equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in the labour market.

35. The first phase of the International research project on job retention and return to work strategies for disabled workers culminated in May 1998 in the publication by the ILO of the Key Issues Paper, drawing on reports from the eight participant countries, and with the International Symposium on Job Retention and Return to Work Strategies for Disabled Workers, hosted by the United States Government and held in Washington, DC. The project is designed to link research with the current and emerging concerns of governments, employers and workers. The determination of the eight industrialized countries to participate and share in the costs of this project was motivated by common social and economic concerns. The findings of the initial research and the discussions in the meeting have uncovered promising solutions, as well as areas requiring further scrutiny and commitment to action.

36. Among the different kinds of disability, the incidence of mental disability, and particularly depression, is increasing most rapidly. REHAB intends to analyse the different forms of mental disability and the reasons for its increase in society and in the working environment, and to elaborate practical solutions concerning the means that might be taken to overcome discrimination arising from this disability. With external financing, new research was initiated by the ILO in January 1999. REHAB is also intensifying its cooperation with the Council of Europe's Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with Disabilities in order to develop further strategies to improve access to training, employment and occupation for persons with disabilities.

37. Another equally important area of REHAB's activities is the Drug and Alcohol Prevention Programme, which has as its objectives: (1) to increase the capacity of ILO member States, and of employers' and workers' organizations, as well as enterprises, to formulate policies and implement programmes to prevent and reduce drug and alcohol problems in the workplace; (2) to increase access by these partners to information and resource material for policy formulation and programme development. For this purpose the Code of practice on the management of alcohol and drug-related issues in the workplace was developed and published in 1996 to provide a framework for the development of the drug and alcohol prevention programme.(11)  One of the key concepts of the Code is that drug and alcohol policies and programmes should "apply to all staff, managers and employees and should not discriminate on grounds of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin". The ILO is promoting the Code of practice through workshops and presentations at international meetings and conferences.

VI. Discrimination and indigenous and tribal peoples

38. The Office pursues its activities to promote the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), and to improve the implementation of this instrument and the earlier Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957 (No. 107) which is still in force in a number of countries. The technical cooperation project financed by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), set up to promote ILO policy on indigenous and tribal peoples within the framework of the above standards continued its activities at the country, subregional and international levels.

39. Convention No. 169 received three ratifications in 1998, bringing the total to 13. Supervisory activities continued as before, and have revealed both widespread efforts to put into practice the principles underlying the Convention, and continued discrimination and exclusion suffered by these peoples in many countries.

40. In selected countries in Asia and Latin America, technical cooperation activities focused on building the capacities of indigenous and tribal peoples' organizations for effective participation in negotiations with other stakeholders. Discussions and consultations were promoted with all partners involved, including governments, private and parastatal corporations, and indigenous and tribal organizations, to identify and agree on fundamental principles and requirements, and mutual responsibilities and obligations. Support was also given to facilitate the process of networking and organization building among the many indigenous organizations with a view to their more effective representation in policy discussions, such as the sustainable use and management of indigenous ancestral lands.

41. At the country level, the project conducted a series of training workshops on development management in Cambodia during January and June 1998 with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Highland Peoples' Development (IMC). The ultimate beneficiaries of the project were the indigenous and tribal peoples in north-eastern Cambodia (highland peoples). The project continues to cooperate with the IMC to facilitate dialogue. In India, follow-up activities on the workshops on the empowerment of women in tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, organized in 1997, are under discussion. The objective is to further the legal and traditional rights of indigenous and tribal women in India. In South Africa the project, in cooperation with the Ministry for Provincial Affairs and Constitutional Development, organized the Conference on the Constitutional Accommodation of Vulnerable Indigenous Communities, which adopted a resolution recognizing for the first time the existence of indigenous peoples by the Government of South Africa. A follow-up workshop is planned for 1999. Furthermore, a national policy workshop on indigenous and tribal peoples' issues will be held in Thailand with the objective of continuing the dialogue between the Department of Public Welfare and the indigenous and tribal peoples on how to improve their living conditions, taking into consideration the 1997 Constitution of Thailand which emphasizes participatory approaches. The DANIDA project is planning further activities in South Africa, Bangladesh and the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

42. The project has also made efforts at the international level to engage trade unions and indigenous and tribal peoples in a dialogue aimed at cooperation and respect. Following a workshop held in 1997, the project initiated discussions with Education International regarding future cooperation in increasing awareness and understanding of indigenous and tribal peoples issues in Asia. Contacts have also been established with the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions to promote ILO standards on indigenous and tribal peoples in the southern African region. The project assisted Public Service International in organizing a workshop on the relationship between indigenous and tribal peoples and trade unions in Yokohama in November 1998.

43. With regard to publications and promotional materials, the project is currently completing the Basic guide to Convention No. 169, which will be translated into various languages. Based on a questionnaire, a Database on indigenous and tribal peoples' organizations is being developed in order to strengthen networking and cooperation with these organizations. A publication on The customary law of indigenous and tribal peoples aims to stimulate the formulation of strategies for the incorporation of customary law into national law and policy making. The preparatory work for another publication on Traditional occupations has started; it will raise awareness of issues related to traditional occupational practices and explore their socio-economic viability. A pilot project undertaken with selected communities in the project countries is the development of an Indigenous-to-indigenous exchange module, intended as part of measures to give effect to the 1989 Conference resolution on ILO action concerning indigenous and tribal peoples, which was intended to guide the implementation and enhance the provisions of Convention No. 169. Designed primarily as a training module with an educational orientation, the aim of the "indigenous to indigenous" approach is to facilitate and strengthen cooperation between indigenous peoples of different regions. Implementation will commence during the second phase of the project. The project continues to cooperate with the United Nations on the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, and will launch a training programme for indigenous leaders with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in 1999.

44. The Interregional Programme to Support Self-reliance of Indigenous and Tribal Communities through Cooperatives and Other Self-Help Organizations (INDISCO) continued its activities in Asia and Central America. A number of workshops were held on awareness building, the promotion of equal employment opportunities and technical skills in Belize, India, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam in 1998. Activities will be continued in 1999. A workshop on indigenous culture and gender, held in the Philippines in November 1998, dealt with topics such as equal opportunities, gender integration and awareness building. Participants included INDISCO project and field staff, project managers and extension workers. A similar workshop will be held in India in 1999. The annual donor consultation meeting held in 1998 in the Philippines brought together indigenous and tribal peoples' representatives, donors and governments to sensitize the latter to the interests and rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.

VII. Discrimination and workers of the
occupied Arab territories

45. As in previous years, the Office has continued to examine the situation of workers in the complex and sensitive socio-political context of the occupied Arab territories. At the 86th Session (1998) of the International Labour Conference the Director-General presented the 21st report on the situation of workers of the occupied territories.

46. The report highlighted recent developments with respect to the situation of workers in the Golan and Palestinians working in Israel. It documented the obstacles to equality of opportunity and treatment for workers with respect to access to employment within the occupied territories in Israel and in settlements. It noted, however, that some indicators suggested a reversed trend in closures between Israel and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and an increase in Palestinian employment in these areas. The report further highlighted concerns such as restrictions on work permits, discriminatory payments of wages, unequal social security benefits, and the emergence of a new arrangement through a type of manpower company system and the potential for abusive conditions of work. A positive development seems to be that the Government of Israel was applying its new labour policy to Palestinian workers, which is intended to improve the situation. The report continued to give particular emphasis to the difficulties encountered in developing trade unions. Statistical information indicated that while there had been a serious deterioration in the situation in the Palestinian labour market, the Palestinian population and labour force continued to grow at comparatively high rates, "complicating further what must be done to restore social progress".

47. The ILO continued to execute nine technical assistance projects in these areas, totalling over US$8.5 million. The priority areas remain cooperation in the field of capacity building among the responsible authorities and the social partners, employment generation and rehabilitation services. Possible future technical cooperation assistance could cover child labour, gender equality and social security. The report further noted the activities carried out by the Turin Centre, currently worth some US$1.6 million. A number of these activities aim at the promotion of Palestinian women workers' rights and the promotion and development of entrepreneurship among Palestinian women.

48. The report concluded that the ILO was "uniquely placed to assist the Palestinian Authority and the employers' and workers' organizations in the occupied Arab territories" and that "its priorities remain the promotion of full, freely chosen and productive employment and the strengthening of national institutions and capacity building within civil society".

49. The Director-General has approached the Israeli authorities with a view to arranging a further mission.

Geneva, 18 February 1999.

1. GB.273/LILS/6 and GB.274/LILS/5.

2. GB.273/LILS/6.

3. A Southern African Tripartite Seminar on Equality Issues for Labour Court Judges and Assessors in Harare in February 1999, a Caribbean Subregional Tripartite Seminar on Recent Trends in Employment Equality Issues for Labour Courts and Tribunals, in the second half of this year.

4. In this regard, copies of reports received on Convention No. 169 are forwarded for comment to the United Nations, the FAO, WHO and UNESCO. Copies have also been sent to the Inter-American Institute of the Organization of American States.

5. International Labour Conference, 87th Session, June 1999, item 5 on the agenda -- Revision of the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952 (No. 103), and Recommendation, 1952 (No. 95): Report V(1), Maternity protection at work; Report V(1), Questionnaire; Report V(2), Replies to the questionnaire.

6. GB.265/4.

7. GB.274/TC/3; GB.273/TC/1; GB.273/TC/2.

8. Technical Symposium on International Migration and Development, UNFPA, New York, 1998.

9. GB.270/5.

10. See also GB.274/ESP/1.

11. GB.262/10: Report of the Tripartite Meeting of Experts on the Management of Drug and Alcohol Problems in the Workplace (Geneva, 23-31 January 1995).

Updated by VC. Approved by RH. Last update: 26 January 2000.