Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards
FIRST ITEM ON THE AGENDA
Standing Orders questions relating to the setting
in motion of the follow-up on the ILO Declaration
on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
1. In March 1999, after discussing various proposals relating to the setting in motion of the follow-up on the Declaration,(1) the Governing Body referred two procedural aspects to its 276th Session (November 1999) for consideration by its Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards, namely the manner in which the annual follow-up concerning unratified fundamental Conventions (Part II of the Annex to the Declaration) should be examined by the Governing Body and how the global report should be discussed at the Conference (Part III of the Annex to the Declaration).
(a) Discussion by the Governing Body of the annual review
2. The Annex to the Declaration (Part II.B, paragraphs 2 and 3) gives the Governing Body responsibility under the follow-up for reviewing the annual reports, as compiled by the Office and considered by a group of experts, with a view to "drawing attention to any aspects which might call for a more in-depth discussion". It will be recalled that the Director-General sent the report forms for the annual reports to the governments concerned in April of this year, with a deadline of 1 November 1999 for their replies.
3. The Annex to the Declaration also provides for States not represented on the Governing Body to be given the possibility to provide clarifications that might prove necessary or useful during the Governing Body's discussion of the annual review and for existing procedures to be adjusted accordingly (Part II.B, paragraph 4). In accordance with the ILO Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Governing Body, the participation of non-Governing Body member States in the Governing Body's discussions is currently limited to the representation and complaint procedures under articles 24 and 26 of the Constitution and to the consideration of reports of the Committee on Freedom of Association. These existing procedures do not cover -- and should not cover in view of the promotional nature of the Declaration and its follow-up -- the review of annual reports submitted under the follow-up to the Declaration.
4. Accordingly, in November 1998 and March 1999, the Governing Body considered possible legal and practical arrangements to allow States not represented on it to take part in its discussions in a way that would clearly differentiate them from the representation and complaint procedures. The Governing Body favoured a solution under which such participation would take place during an informal sitting that was not governed by the normal provisions of the Standing Orders.
5. Under this solution, the Governing Body would consider the Office's compilation of the annual reports(2) and the introduction to it prepared by the group of experts, both of which would have been made available to constituents prior to the session.(3) There would be a general discussion, which would take place in an official sitting, followed by consideration of aspects that may call for a more in-depth discussion (Part II.B.3 of the Annex to the Declaration). For this latter consideration, the Governing Body could suspend its official sitting to meet as a committee of the whole so as to allow the governments of Members not represented on the Governing Body and wishing to take part in the discussion of the annual review to supplement the information contained in their reports. In order to provide for some flexibility, the proposal also referred to the possibility that non-members of the Governing Body could provide clarifications to the committee of the whole in writing through the Director-General.
6. After the informal exchange of views, the Governing Body would, under its normal rules, draw conclusions taking into account the general discussion and the discussions in the committee of the whole.
7. If the above proposal is adopted, the Standing Orders of the Governing Body would need to be amended so as to allow, when appropriate, representatives of non-members of the Governing Body to supplement their annual reports, either orally or in writing. Such an amendment could take the form of a new article 9bis worded in the following terms:
The Governing Body may decide to meet as a committee of the whole in order to hold an informal exchange of views, in which representatives of governments that are not represented on the Governing Body may, in the manner determined by it, be given an opportunity to express their views with respect to matters concerning their own situation. The committee of the whole shall report to the Governing Body.
8. Since the Governing Body is due to consider the first annual review under the follow-up to the Declaration at its next session in March 2000, the Committee may wish to recommend to the Governing Body that it adopt the amendment proposed in paragraph 7 above at its present session.
(b) Discussion by the Conference of the global report
9. The Director-General, under whose responsibility the global report is to be drawn up according to Part III.B.1 of the Annex to the Declaration, is due to present the first global report to the 88th Session of the Conference (June 2000). The report will conform to the three elements explicitly provided for in Part III.A.1 of the Annex to the Declaration:
(a) to provide a dynamic global picture relating to each category of fundamental principles and rights noted during the preceding four-year period;(4)
(b) to serve as a basis for assessing the effectiveness of the assistance provided by the Organization;
(c) to serve as a basis for determining priorities for the following period, in the form of action plans for technical cooperation designed in particular to mobilize the internal and external resources necessary to carry them out. These action plans will, pursuant to Part III.B.2 of the Annex, be drawn up by the Governing Body in November.
10. According to Part III.B of the Annex to the Declaration, "the Conference may deal with this report separately from reports under article 12 of its Standing Orders [...] [at a] sitting devoted entirely to this report, or in any other appropriate way".
11. At its 273rd Session (November 1998),(5) the Governing Body expressed its preference for a separate discussion of the global report at a plenary sitting of the Conference devoted entirely to that report. At its 274th Session (March 1999), the Governing Body considered a draft amendment to article 12 of the Conference Standing Orders prepared to that effect by the Office.(6) However, the Governing Body considered that it would not be appropriate to amend the Conference Standing Orders before the first global report had been discussed, and suggested that the necessary modifications be first effected by means of ad hoc arrangements.
12. Consequently, such arrangements would be adopted only on a provisional basis and would be subject to review on the basis of experience. However, as pointed out at the 274th Session (March 1999) of the Governing Body, there would need to be a consensus in favour of the adoption of such arrangements in so far as they would provide for departures from the Standing Orders of the Conference.(7) A consensus would be necessary because, in accordance with article 76 of the Standing Orders, the Conference may only suspend a provision of its Standing Orders where it concerns a non-controversial matter and has been recommended unanimously by the Officers of the Conference. If for some reason there was no consensus, the Conference could amend its Standing Orders by a simple majority so that the global report could be discussed separately from the main Report of the Director-General. Such a procedure would however not be in line with the general wish that any solution be agreeable to all the parties concerned.
13. Concerning the substance of the arrangements themselves, different concerns have been expressed by constituents both as regards the length of the discussion of the global report and the manner in which the discussion is to be conducted.
14. Regarding the manner in which the discussion is to take place, in deciding that the global report should be treated as a special report separate from the Director-General's main Report, the Governing Body acknowledged that special procedures should apply, namely that the discussion should not be governed by the provisions concerning the discussion of the Director-General's Report to the Conference, in particular with respect to the time limit for speeches (article 14, paragraph 6) or the number of statements that each speaker is permitted to make (article 12, paragraph 3). Constituents have also voiced the view that the discussion should be interactive to enhance its interest and for its outcome to constitute clear guidelines for the Governing Body's meeting in November in determining the action plans for the ensuing four-year period.
15. The operation of these special procedures will however depend on the time devoted to the discussion of the global report. In this respect, while there is a call for sufficient time to be set aside for that discussion, account should also be taken of the tight schedule of the plenary sittings of the Conference, which begin in the second week, and of the need to avoid undermining its normal business and other special events, such as ministerial meetings or visits of eminent personalities. These time constraints leave room for devoting no more than three plenary sittings to the discussion of the global report.
16. In order to reconcile the wish for an interactive discussion with the limited time available, the arrangements should be such that a dialogue could take place without imposing restrictions on the right of delegates to take the floor. Thus, one solution could be to make provision for a given time frame for opening statements by the spokespersons of the non-governmental and regional groups without setting any strict time limit for them (unless such a time limit becomes unavoidable). The floor would thereafter be given to individual speakers. Sufficient time should also be foreseen for speakers to be given an opportunity to make a concluding statement at the end of the discussion, particularly if they speak on behalf of a group. In view of the time available, these statements should to the extent possible be combined, either through the designation of spokespersons by the different groups or in some other way. In this same spirit, it could be envisaged to retain the right of a minister to take the floor, but not in addition to the Government delegate. This would require suspension of the relevant provision in article 12, paragraph 3, of the Standing Orders of the Conference.
17. Once provision has been made for the opening and closing statements, the remaining time available for the intervening period would be divided among the individual speakers registered. If due to the number of speakers registered the time for individual speeches was too short, a third sitting should be convened. Such a sitting could be devoted to concluding remarks aimed at establishing guidelines for the discussion on the action plans at the following November session of the Governing Body.
18. A recommendation to the Conference at its 88th Session in June 2000 on the arrangements for the discussion of the global report should preferably be decided by the Governing Body at its present session so that they can be reflected in the Memorandum on the 88th Session of the Conference, which will be sent to member States early in the year 2000.
19. The Committee may wish to recommend to the Governing Body that it invite the Conference to adopt the proposals in the Appendix concerning the discussion of the global report under the follow-up to the Declaration.
Geneva, 15 October 1999.
Points for decision:
2. The compilation prepared by the Office will consist of information provided under the annual follow-up, in an edited and summarized form.
3. Since the meeting of the group of experts will not take place until late January or early February, the introduction it prepares will be available only shortly before the March Governing Body session.
4. It should be noted that, in the first global report on each category of fundamental principles and rights, the scope of this first element will necessarily be slightly different in that the situation covered by the "dynamic picture" will not correspond to the "preceding four-year period", but rather to the situation prevailing at the time of the preparation of each of the first four global reports.
7. While the nature and extent of such departures would depend on the decisions to be taken, the holding of a separate discussion would at least require the suspension of the rule preventing delegates from speaking more than once in the discussion of the Director-General's Report (see para. 14 below).
Ad hoc arrangements for the discussion of the global report
under the follow-up to the Declaration at the
88th Session of the International Labour Conference
Principle of the discussion
Having regard to the various options referred to in the Annex to the Declaration, the Governing Body recommends that the global report submitted to the Conference by the Director-General should be dealt with separately from the Director-General's reports under article 12 of the Conference Standing Orders and should be discussed during plenary sittings devoted entirely to it.
Timing of the discussion
Two sittings on the same day should be convened for the discussion of the global report, with the possibility, if necessary, of extending the sitting or convening a further sitting on the same day or on a different day, as appropriate.
In order to take account of the programme of work of the Conference and of the fact that a number of ministers who usually are present during the second week of the Conference may wish to take the floor, the discussion of the global report should be held during the second week of the Conference.
Procedure for the discussion
The separate discussion of the global report recommended above implies in particular that the statements made during the discussion of the global report should not fall under the limitation concerning the number of statements by each speaker in plenary provided for in article 12, paragraph 3, of the Standing Orders, and that the discussion should not be governed by the provisions of article 14, paragraph 6, concerning the time limit for speeches. These provisions should accordingly be suspended under the procedure provided for in article 76 of the Standing Orders to the extent necessary for the discussion of the global report.
In order to allow a maximum number of constituents to express their views, a speech by a visiting minister pursuant to article 12, paragraph 3, of the Conference Standing Orders should not be additional to that by a Government delegate of the Member concerned.
Organization of the discussion
Special arrangements should be worked out for the organization of the discussion.
The time available should be divided into three phases: a first phase devoted to opening statements by the spokespersons of the non-governmental and regional groups; a second phase for statements by individual delegates, and a third phase to allow spokespersons of the groups and, where possible, other delegates, to make their concluding remarks in the discussion.
During the first and third phases, no strict time limit for speeches should apply unless this becomes unavoidable. During the second phase, the time limit for speeches should be calculated on the basis of the number of speakers registered.