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ILO lifts restrictions on Myanmar

The International Labour Organization has lifted its restrictions on the full participation of Myanmar in its activities and decided to review the progress on the elimination of forced labour in the country next year.

News | 13 June 2012
GENEVA (ILO News) – The decision, taken by the International Labour Conference during its annual meeting in Geneva, comes a day before Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Member of Parliament in Myanmar, addresses the Conference’s plenary on Thursday 14 June.

Since 1999, by a decision of the Conference, Myanmar has not received technical cooperation from the ILO except for the purpose of combating forced labour. Myanmar has not been invited to ILO meetings or activities on various labour matters.

The restrictions were put in place as a follow-up to a Commission of Inquiry which concluded in 1998 that the use of forced labour was widespread in the country. A number of recommendations were made for changes in legislation and practice.

In 2000, the Conference found that Myanmar was not implementing these recommendations. It then enacted a number of measures, including a request to ILO Member States to review their relations with Myanmar to ensure that their actions could not be used to perpetuate the use of forced labour. Most of these measures have now also been suspended.

The Conference requested that urgent attention be given to technical cooperation priorities in Myanmar. Priorities already established are the effective and full realization of freedom of association as well as the elimination of forced labour.

The Government of Myanmar and the ILO have agreed on a joint strategy for eliminating forced labour. The Government acknowledges the need for immediate action on this strategy with a view of implementing it before the declared target date of 2015.

Video highlights from the 101st Session of the ILC: Myanmar welcomes the announcement of the ILO's decision to lift restrictions on technical cooperation and support

Stating they are "cautiously optimistic", the Member States of the International Labour Organization have agreed to lift or suspend key restrictions on the ILO's work in Myanmar. Following a vote in the ILC plenary session in Geneva, the ILO agreed to lift restrictions which excluded the Government of Myanmar from receiving ILO technical cooperation and assistance. It also suspends for one year an ILO request of its members to review their relationships with Myanmar to ensure forced labour is not being used in those relationships. Under the agreement announced at the ILC, representatives of Myanmar can also now attend most ILO meetings, symposia and seminars.