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ILO Governing Body

ILO Governing Body elects new Chairperson ─ Committee on Freedom of Association cites Myanmar, Cambodia and Islamic Republic of Iran

The Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) elected H.E. Mrs. Maria Nazareth Farani Azevêdo, Ambassador of Brazil and Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office in Geneva as Chairperson for its 2009-10 Session.

Press release | 19 June 2009

GENEVA (ILO News) – The Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) elected H.E. Mrs. Maria Nazareth Farani Azevêdo, Ambassador of Brazil and Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office in Geneva as Chairperson for its 2009-10 Session.

The 305th Session of the Governing Body also considered a range of other business, including a report of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

Mrs. Farani Azevêdo replaces H.E. Mr. Zdzislaw Rapacki, Ambassador of Poland to the Conference on Disarmament and Permanent Representative of Poland to the United Nations Office in Geneva, who served as Governing Body Chairperson during the 2008-09 Session.

Between 2003 and 2007 Mrs. Farani Azevêdo worked directly with the Minister of Foreign Relations, initially as his Advisor on Political Issues, and, starting in 2005, as his Chief of Staff. In 2004-05, Ambassador Azevêdo was President Lula’s Chief Negotiator for his “Action Against Hunger and Poverty” initiative. Since September 2008, she is the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva.

Sir Leroy Trotman, General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union and spokesperson of the Workers’ Group in the Governing Body, was re-elected Workers’ Vice-chairperson. Daniel Funes de Rioja, President of the Social Policy Department of the Argentine Industrial Union and Chairman of the Employers’ Group of the Organization of American States from 1995 to 1998, was re-elected as Employer Vice-chairperson.

The three will serve as Officers of the Governing Body during its 2009-10 Session. The Governing Body is the executive council of the ILO and meets three times annually in Geneva. It takes decisions on policy and establishes the program and budget of the 183 member States of the ILO.

Following-up on the discussions of the International Labour Conference, government, employer and worker representatives welcomed the adoption of the Global Jobs Pact at the Conference and called for immediate practical action to put it in place. The Pact was designed to guide national and international policies aimed at stimulating economic recovery, generating jobs and providing protection to working people and their families worldwide.

Freedom of association

The Governing Body approved the 354th report of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. At its present meeting, the Committee examined 26 cases. Altogether there are currently 134 cases before the Committee.

The Committee drew special attention to the cases of Myanmar, Cambodia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the case of Cambodia, the Committee regretted the repeated absence of information on any steps taken to investigate the murder of Chea Vichea and two other murdered trade union leaders – the cases dating back to 2004 and 2007 respectively. It urged the Government to ensure that the investigations into the murders were full, independent, prompt and expeditiously carried out so as to ensure that all available information was brought before the courts with a view to determining the actual murderers and the instigators of the assassinations, punishing the guilty parties and thus bringing to an end the prevailing situation of impunity as regards violence against trade union leaders.

The Committee stressed the urgency for the Government to take steps for capacity building of the judiciary and the institution of safeguards against corruption necessary for the independence and effectiveness of the judicial system. It strongly urged the Government to ensure that trade unions were able to exercise their activities in a climate free of intimidation and risk to their personal security and their lives, and that of their families.

The Committee also examined three cases concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran. With respect to the grave situation relating to freedom of association in the country it welcomed the Government’s statement that an ILO direct contacts mission would be viewed positively. The Committee expected that the mission would be able to visit the country shortly and that it would be in a position to assist the Government in achieving significant results with respect to all the serious outstanding matters, including its recommendations in relation to trade unionists still in detention, and eliminating the use of excessive violence when controlling demonstrations. In particular, the Committee called for the immediate release of Mansour Osanloo and other detained trade unionists.

Noting with interest that the proposed amendments to the country’s Labour Law would appear to permit trade union multiplicity, the Committee once again urged the Government to deploy all efforts so as to allow for trade union pluralism.

It also urged the Government to immediately take the necessary measures to register and recognize the Iran Confederation of Employers’ Association (ICEA) constituted in March 2007 and to ensure that it could exercise its activities without hindrance.

The Committee also examined the effect given to its recommendations in two cases concerning Myanmar. In both cases, the Committee deplored that the Government had failed to implement its recommendations and urged it to immediately release six workers’ activists. Emphasizing the fundamental obligation of a member State to respect human and trade union rights, the Committee urged the Government in the strongest terms to enact legislation guaranteeing freedom of association to all workers in Myanmar, as well as to ensure, in the meantime, that national legislation impeding freedom of association would not be applied.

Proposing the ILO’s technical assistance, it further asked the Government to issue instructions to its civil and military agents so as to ensure that the authorities fully refrain from any act preventing the free operation of all forms of collective representation of workers, freely chosen by them, including seafarers’ organizations and organizations which operate in exile and which cannot be recognized in the prevailing legislative context.