Statement by ILO Director-General on the situation in Libya

Statement | Geneva | 24 February 2011

The Director-General of the ILO, Juan Somavia, associates himself fully with the grave concern and condemnation expressed by the Security Council and the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the dramatic situation in Libya.

Mr. Somavia stated: “Libyan leaders must put an immediate stop to the massive killings, large-scale violence and generalized repression unleashed against peaceful demonstrations of people exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and assembly.”

He added: “Of grave concern to the ILO is the plight of domestic and migrant workers and their families caught in the midst of this deepening humanitarian, social and political crisis. Their rights, voices and dignity must be respected. This includes respect for the basic right to freedom of association of employers and of workers.”

The standards supervisory bodies of the ILO have repeatedly requested Libya to let workers set up and join organizations of their own choosing. The ILO has expressed strong concern that people who have tried to exercise this right have been subject to repressive measures, including forced labour.

ILO Director-General stated: “National and international conditions must be created for a peaceful resolution of this conflict. The will of the people must be listened to, including importantly the representative organizations of workers and of employers.”

The situation in Libya is a further illustration that unattended widespread unemployment, poverty and lack of freedoms are a major impediment to development and eventually lead to grave national and international security risks.

The Director-General of the ILO stresses that the Libyan people deserve to benefit from a sustained effort for development with social justice which gives all women and men, and particularly youth, their rightful share in the fruits of progress and respects dignity and basic rights through decent work.

When this becomes possible, the ILO is ready to assist Libya in pursuing these objectives.