ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

86th Session
Geneva, June 1998



Report of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles

Committee report

Submission, discussion and adoption

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- We will now move on to the report of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles, which you will find in Provisional Record No. 20. The text of the proposed Declaration appears in Provisional Record No. 20A.

I call on Mr. Moher, Chairperson and Reporter of the Committee, to present the report.

Mr. MOHER (Government delegate, Canada; Chairperson and Reporter of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles) -- I can certainly say to everyone in this room with great sincerity that it is a pleasure to be in a meeting where I am not in the Chair.

Before formally presenting the results of the work of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles, I wish to make one general observation. The report itself, but even more the proposed ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work and its follow-up, is truly the result of a collective effort, and I want to emphasize that point.

First, I must very sincerely recognize the great contributions made by our Officers, Mr. Brett of the Workers and Mr. Potter of the Employers. Our results are truly tripartite in nature. The Office itself made a significant contribution, and I particularly wish to thank Mr. Tapiola, Mr. Maupain and Mr. Swepston for their advice, their support and their direct contributions to our work. All of you of course will be particularly aware of our dependence throughout our work on our Legal Adviser, Mr. Maupain, and his contribution certainly deserves particular note. Many others greatly aided our work -- interpreters, translators, Conference Officers and people working in document services, and to all we owe a word of thanks. It would of course be greatly remiss not to recognize and acknowledge the tremendous contribution made over the past four years on this subject by our Director-General, Mr. Hansenne. But my final and most comprehensive acknowledgement goes to all those members of the Committee who worked long and demanding hours and made such important contributions to the final outcome. It is on behalf of all of you that it is an honour and a pleasure to present for approval to this plenary meeting the report of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles, as well as the text of the ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work and its follow-up. The Declaration and its follow-up mark a truly historic step forward in the ILO's commitment to the promotion of the fundamental rights of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, of the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, of the effective abolition of child labour and of the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. A ringing endorsement by this Conference of the Declaration and its follow-up will be a powerful affirmation of our collective commitment to those fundamental principles and rights. There are, in that regard, two dimensions of this achievement of interest to this plenary. The first concerns the actual negotiation of the Declaration and its follow-up, and the second relates to the Declaration and its follow-up. I should like to say a word about the negotiating history first.

As all in this plenary are aware, our negotiation and approval of the Declaration and its follow-up was a strenuous and demanding exercise. This was not, and this point needs to be emphasized, due to a lack of commitment by any member of the Committee to the fundamental principles and rights which were the focus of attention. Rather it was due to our collective desire to be as clear and as comprehensive as possible in reaffirming that commitment within the context of the Constitution of the International Labour Organization, including the Declaration of Philadelphia on its aims and purposes. That this objective was achieved is a tribute to the dedication and cooperative spirit manifested by all members of the Committee.

During the negotiation process many important, indeed critical, points were considered as the text evolved. Several points should be emphasized in that respect.

First, agreement in the Committee on many points was the result of a clear understanding of the legal context and meaning of the formulations used in the Declaration. Those legal assessments and opinions are included in the report of the Committee, and establish the foundation for the approval by the Committee of the Declaration and its follow-up. These legal assessments are clearly identified in the table of contents of the report before you.

Second, the Committee carefully reflected on the formulation concerning child labour in point 3 of the Declaration. Its final decision was based on an opinion by the Committee's Legal Adviser: "The Legal Adviser stated again that the expression 'effective abolition of child labour' could, and must be, understood in a promotional and progressive sense which was indeed also reflected in the definition of Article 1 of Convention No. 138 to the extent that the Convention itself recognized that certain forms of child labour did not fall within its scope or might be excluded in certain circumstances. It was clear a fortiori that the Declaration did not require Members to eliminate such forms of child labour or similar forms".

Third, there were a number of proposals and interventions setting out concerns by various members of the Committee with regard to the Declaration as a whole, and more specifically with regard to point 3 thereof. In response, the Committee's Legal Adviser provided his observations in written form and read them into the record of the Committee. These are reflected in the report.

Perhaps one or two of these observations might usefully be highlighted at this point. First, the Committee fully acknowledged that the defining legal documents of the ILO remains its Constitution and the Declaration of Philadelphia. No new legal commitments or obligations are incurred through, or by approval of, the Declaration and its follow-up.

Second, and as emphasized in the follow-up itself, that follow-up is purely promotional in nature and therefore is not, and cannot be, punitive or complaints-based. These observations, and others, are of course reinforced by report 7 of the Office which was the basis for the Committee's deliberations, as well as by the work of the Committee as reflected in its report.

These factors, together with the others already identified, contributed significantly to the ability of the Committee to approve both the Declaration and its follow-up.

Turning now to address the contents of the Declaration and its follow-up, there are several additional comments which might usefully be made. These two texts were, of course, negotiated and approved by the Committee as an integrated package. The identification of several points in this intervention should be seen from and against that perspective.

The first comment concerns the sixth paragraph of the Preamble to the Declaration. The Committee attached particular importance to the concept expressed in that paragraph, according to which the ILO is the constitutionally mandated international organization and the competent body to set and deal with international labour standards, and thus enjoys universal support and acknowledgement in promoting fundamental principles and rights at work.

A second comment concerns the introductory part of point 2 in the Declaration. As already noted, this point is the subject of a written, legal observation by the Committee's Legal Adviser. Thus any comment made at this stage is not intended to reopen that question but rather to emphasize the recognition expressed in that point that all Members of the ILO, without exception, have an obligation arising from their adherence to its Constitution and to the Declaration of Philadelphia to respect, to promote, and to realize in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution the principles concerning the fundamental rights which are the subjects of those fundamental Conventions identified in point 2. The importance of this point must be fully recognized and welcomed.

As regards point 3, the basic purpose of that point is to highlight and to reinforce the promotional nature of the Declaration and its follow-up. Thus, the ILO is challenged to make full use of its resources, consistent with its Constitution, to assist its Members in response to their established and expressed needs. This includes the ILO's cooperative efforts with other international organizations with which it has established relations pursuant to article 12 of its Constitution. It should be noted as a matter of fact that the relationships in question are specifically approved in their written form by the ILO's Governing Body.

Finally, the particular significance of point 5 must be recognized. The text of this point emerged following lengthy and genuinely difficult discussions during which a wide range of views, preoccupations, desires and concerns was put forward. All of these are reflected in the Committee's report and thus need not be reviewed in comprehensive detail in this intervention.

Suffice it to say that the proposals put forward ranged from those suggesting that the concept covered in point 5 should not be addressed in the Declaration at all, to those proposing that the concept should, indeed must, be addressed in a much more prominent and extensive manner.

Point 5, as contained in the text before this plenary, was approved by the Committee as the formulation commanding the widest possible support. As noted earlier, the Committee's report details the Committee's consideration of and decision upon this matter. And of course it is important for all to bear in mind the observations contained in page 20 of Chapter 3 of Report VII entitled "The legal scope of the Declaration and its follow-up mechanism", which are part of the considerations on the basis of which the Committee took its decision.

Now, having addressed both the negotiation history of the Declaration and its follow-up, as well as certain aspects of the final texts, it is absolutely essential for this plenary to reflect upon and to emphasize the truly historic nature of the Declaration and its follow-up. Together, they demonstrate in clear and dramatic fashion the commitment of us all, Governments, Employers and Workers, from all regions of the world, to the fundamental principles and rights at work which are at the very core of this great Organization. In approving the Declaration and its follow-up, this Conference will be demonstrating that the constituents of the ILO have, above all, heard the challenge put to it and have responded positively and comprehensively to that challenge.

With full justification we can and should be proud of having done so. And finally, and most critically of all, we have pledged to make full use of the ILO's resources, including the mobilization of additional resources and support to promote the ILO's fundamental principles and rights at work.

In doing so we have renewed and reaffirmed our common commitment to achieving social justice for all, and to the establishment of our constitutionally stated objective of universal and lasting peace for all.

Mr. POTTER (Employers' delegate, United States; Employer Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Application of Standards) -- Looking over the history of the International Labour Organization, its relevancy and importance to the world has been marked by three events.

The first of course is the conclusion of the First World War and the establishment of the ILO itself in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

The second defining event, the adoption of the Declaration of Philadelphia in 1944, followed the great depression of the 1930s as the Second World War drew to a close. It was adopted at a time when, like today, the universality, legitimacy and relevancy of the ILO were open to serious question. By acclamation, 41 members of the ILO unanimously affirmed the aims and purposes of the ILO in 1944.

The third such event in the ILO's history has been not war, but the emergence and rapid growth of the global economy, which represents the most significant change in the world affecting the ILO since its creation.

In contrast to 1919 and 1944, today's world is increasingly interconnected. Falling trade barriers, instant communications, relatively fast and inexpensive intercontinental transportation, and rapidly changing technologies are shaping the world economy as never before. With change being a constant dynamic in the workplace as never before and the pace of change more rapid than at any other time in history, the social aspects of globalization and the tensions within and among nations are being highlighted.

In particular, with the conclusion of the Uruguay Round in 1994 there has been substantial pressure to link trade sanctions and the fundamental Conventions. The Employers' group has been and remains adamantly opposed to such linkage in the trading system to permit the application of coercive measures such as trade sanctions to enforce labour standards.

However, taking a pragmatic approach to new work forms and changing conditions of work in the emerging global marketplace, the Employer' group was among the first to propose that the ILO adopt a new Declaration addressing fundamental principles of the ILO to be followed up by adapting elements of existing ILO supervisory machinery. The important roles of Cornelie Hak and Abe Katz should be acknowledged in this regard. The relevance of such a declaration was confirmed by the December 1996 WTO Ministerial Conference, which recognized that the ILO is the competent body to address fundamental labour standards in a multilateral trading system.

The Declaration Committee was faced with the challenge of adopting a meaningful Declaration of principles with a credible and meaningful follow-up procedure to preserve and enhance the ILO's central role in assuring a basic level of human decency below which no ILO Member should fall in the global economy.

The ILO, as in all the critical junctures of its history, has shown the collective will, determination and foresight to achieve a consensus. As it is defined in the unabridged Oxford Dictionary, consensus does not mean that everyone agrees with all aspects of the Declaration. Instead, consensus means a "general agreement" or "majority view". Indeed, for all aspects of the Declaration except paragraphs 3 and 5, we were able to meet an even higher standard. The title of the Declaration, the preamble, paragraphs 1, 2, 4 and the follow-up, which provide the heart of the Declaration, were agreed without voting on amendments, and the follow-up mechanism was adopted without any formal amendment process. And although there were distinct differences of view on the introductory clause of paragraph 3 and on paragraph 5, they were adopted by significant majorities after voting on their critical aspects. With only three governments voting against the Declaration in its entirety in the Committee, in view of the complicated global economy in which we work and the obvious difficulty of reconciling the varying interests of the 174 ILO member States, the Declaration must be viewed as a remarkable achievement of consensus.

The consensus was achieved through the exemplary leadership of Ambassador Mark Moher, who provided an environment of openness, transparency and consensus building and, at the critical last stages, provided the Committee with a proposed final text which proved to be the final text. This was all done with good humour and grace, and was an outstanding act of international leadership and diplomacy that is a credit to himself and his country.

The ILO secretariat, led by Kari Tapiola, François Maupain and Lee Swepston deserves plaudits for the outstanding way they supported the Committee's work. The Employers' group worked well with the Workers' group under the dynamic leadership of Bill Brett. Of course, all final credit goes to the governments, who achieved the consensus on their commitments under the ILO Constitution as they concern fundamental principles and rights at work.

An important lesson to be learned in achieving this Declaration that should be applied to the preparation of selected items at future ILO Conferences, is the active consultative process that preceded the Conference. The ground for our successful result has been the product of four years of debate in the ILO followed by six months of active consultation with all concerned on numerous draft approaches and texts that were submitted to this Conference. In this regard the Employers' group benefited greatly from the contributions of the President of the Conference, Brian Noakes, and Daniel Funes de Rioja.

The text before us meets the criteria that the Employers' group established when we began the process leading to the Declaration. First, the Declaration in paragraph 3 simply embodies the principles concerning fundamental rights contained in the fundamental Conventions. These are commitments that nations take on by virtue of their membership in the ILO. With "social justice" as the declared central tenet of the ILO in its Constitution, the Declaration is a universal recognition of fundamental human decency below which no civilized nation in the ILO should fall in this increasingly interconnected world. As a consequence, the Declaration establishes no new legal obligations on ILO members, but reflects policy obligations which Members incur by virtue of their membership of the Organization.

Second, the Declaration's follow-up does not go beyond the present text of the ILO Constitution. The follow-up procedure is based on the constitutional provisions in force and does not impose new reporting and compliance obligations on member States over and above those covered by the Constitution. In addition, the preamble to the follow-up makes it clear that there is no duplication or double jeopardy as a result of the follow-up procedures.

Third, the Declaration does not impose on member States the detailed obligations of Conventions that they have not freely ratified, and does not impose on countries that have not ratified the fundamental Conventions the supervisory mechanisms that apply to ratified Conventions. The principles and rights of the Declaration therefore only encompass the essence, that is, the goals, objectives and aims of the fundamental Conventions. The concept of principles concerning rights under the Declaration is broader than the detailed principles applied by the Committee on Freedom of Association. In this Declaration we are concerned about whether member States are working towards achieving the policy objectives and goals of the fundamental Conventions. The test is whether there is a pervasive failure of policy to meet the goals, policies and objectives of the fundamental Conventions. This is something very different from meeting the detailed legal obligations that come with ratification.

Fourth, it follows that the application of the principles of the Declaration is not concerned with technical legal matters or matters of detail.

Fifth, the Declaration does not lead to setting up new complaints-based bodies like the Committee on Freedom of Association.

And sixth, there is no link with questions of international trade, and follow-up methods are limited to the ILO.

It is on the basis of these six criteria that the Employers' group endorses the proposed Declaration and follow-up mechanism. As everyone in this plenary knows, the Declaration Committee spent nearly half of its time on a subject that has nothing to do with the ILO's competence, but rather comes within the mandate of other international organizations -- the World Trade Organization and the international financial institutions. Consequently, paragraph 5 is the most problematic paragraph in the Declaration. In terms of it being an uplifting statement of the values and principles of the ILO, it is a non sequitur. While assumed by many, the link between fundamental labour standards and trade has yet to be established. The ILO itself has no competence in trade matters. On the other hand, the World Trade Organization is a rule-making body in the trade field with no expertise on labour standards. The WTO currently has no provision for collective condemnation and application of trade sanctions. The language in paragraph 5 is a very close paraphrase of the language used by the December 1996 WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore. Presumably the governments of the vast majority of countries in this room agreed to similar language in the trade context. The Employers' group is unalterably opposed to the trade linkage, and that includes setting aside currently agreed obligations under multilateral agreements in response to violations of workers' rights.

Paragraph 5 could never provide the safeguard or legal band-aid that its proponents sought simply because the ILO has no competence in the trade field and the Declaration does not release States from any legal obligations they may have under international law. Indeed the best safeguard would be the expeditious implementation of the follow-up mechanism by the Governing Body. The Employers' group believes that the proposed follow-up mechanism provides an appropriate basis for credible meaningful follow-up.

The reaffirmation of the fundamental principles and rights of the ILO in this Declaration and follow-up is the single most important undertaking in which any of us have engaged or will ever engage in this Organization. With this Declaration, the ILO is holding out to the world as we approach the morning of the twenty-first century that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all working men and women and their employers from all regions of this earth in freedom of association should be free from forced labour and discrimination and that their children should be free from inappropriate child labour. By virtue of their membership of the ILO, member States and their constituents in the pursuit of social justice believe that these are the essential values, principles and rights to which they hold themselves and each other accountable now and in the global economy of the twenty-first century.

Mr. BRETT (Workers' delegate, United Kingdom; Worker Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles) -- I have participated in a number of Convention-setting committees over the past decade and I have also participated in committees of a highly political nature such as the Conference Committee on Apartheid, but I can say with absolute sincerity that the Declaration Committee has been the toughest, most gruelling and most exhausting of the Committees I have ever been in. If the pattern of debate in the plenary follows that of the debate in the Committee, I forecast that this speech will be shorter than many that follow it.

Our Chairperson, Ambassador Moher, has described the outcome of our deliberations as "truly historic" and I agree with him, but on all previous occasions the successful completion of such work has left the Workers' group, and certainly myself, feeling elated.

However, on Monday night, when we completed our endeavours, and yesterday, when we adopted our report, I felt no such elation. I have been asking myself why that should be. Partly it might be because I feel we have spent more time debating the trade linkage issue and the paranoia that the initials WTO seem to engender in the minds of some Governments than the reason for our being here, namely to draft a Declaration and follow-up on fundamental rights at work.

A further contributing factor might have been my disappointment that, while a great majority of the Workers' group were of one mind, a small number of my Worker colleagues held contrary views and felt those concerns so strongly that they were unable to support the Workers' position when the voting on amendments took place on Monday evening.

I do not doubt that their feelings concerning protectionism are real, nor do I deny that such fears when expressed by Governments or Employers are real. What I do deny is that the Workers' group position should be viewed as supporting any protectionist measures.

The final issue which, I think, removed any sense of elation was the fact that we, the Workers, were unable to persuade the majority of our colleagues on the Employer and Government benches that Article 6 -- now Article 5 -- has no place in the Declaration and I agree with my Employer colleague that it is a non sequitur. I am also sorry that the fears and misconceptions of those who require reassurance could not be met by placing any such reassurance in the preamble.

The Workers' group is quite clear that to ask to belong to a trade union and for it to bargain on your behalf is not protectionism; to seek an end to child labour is not protectionism; to wish to eradicate discrimination in the workplace is not protectionism; to call for an end to the slavery of forced labour is not protectionism; but to deny those rights to workers in the name of comparative advantage -- that is truly protectionism.

Let us be clear, we seek our rights. We do not seek protectionism, just our fundamental rights, and it is a combination of those three reasons, I think, that removed any real sense of pleasure on Monday evening and again yesterday, although I have to admit that sheer exhaustion might also have played a part. In the cold light of day, or perhaps with the advantage of a good night sleep, I have studied the text of the Declaration once again and I am pleased to note on reflection that we have indeed created a powerful search- light which will illuminate those areas that have previously remained in darkness. The illumination will be provided by the annual reporting under article 19 and the production of the global report. That in turn will allow technical assistance to be directed to assist in the task of ensuring that fundamental principles and rights are respected.

The follow-up mechanism provides a method of scrutiny that all can feel at ease with and the Declaration and follow-up together will assist in the overall aim, which is to achieve the ratification and respect of the seven fundamental standards by all member States. As we stand on the edge of a new century, characterized by the ending of cold war conflicts and the birth of globalization, we need to reach for new tools to help the ILO protect workers affected even more suddenly and with cruel disregard for social circumstances. This we saw most recently in East Asia. This Declaration and follow-up, if implemented fully and with good will, could be a powerful tool in that regard.

The verdict of history will turn on how effectively the Declaration and follow-up are used. That, frankly, will require more political will than was shown in some quarters during this debate.

It is the hope of the Workers' group that with the adoption of the Declaration and follow-up at this 86th Session of the International Labour Conference we can put behind us some of those fears that have dominated our discussions in the past ten days and that the Governing Body will be united in completing the details of the follow-up and ensuring that substance is given to the Declaration and its follow-up in November.

That we have reached the point of adopting this Declaration, hopefully by consensus, seems to me little short of miraculous, given the seemingly intractable differences that bedevilled our debate just a few days ago. It speaks well for all parties that we have reached such a position, but I am sure that this Declaration would have remained beyond our grasp but for the skill, patience and fortitude of our Chairperson, Ambassador Moher of Canada. We on the Workers' benches recognize the debt we owe him and we are also truly grateful for the magnificent support provided by the Office, who toiled away night after night to ensure that we could complete our task. I would also single out Mr. Potter, my Employer colleague, and his colleagues also for their consistent support for this Declaration. The Declaration and follow-up belongs to them also, for without their steadfast support there would have been no Declaration. I trust this augurs well for the building of a new consensus here in the ILO in the face of a globalizing world.

Finally, I turn to the Governments. I thank most of them for their support. The remainder I thank for their tenacity and determination.

The strength of our debate was that such determination showed me just how important this Declaration can be. In closing I would like to thank my Worker colleagues for their support both in the room and, on one occasion, on leaving the room. I pledge the determination of the Workers' group to use this Declaration and its follow-up to good effect to help remove from the world the scourge of forced and child labour, to bring an end to discrimination and to assert the right of workers to belong to and be represented by a trade union. We ask you to join us by adopting this Declaration by consensus.

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- We now move on to the general discussion of the report.

Mr. SINGH (Government adviser, India) -- My Government has supported the consideration of a promotional Declaration on the fundamental principles of this Organization and labour rights, subject to its content, scope and purpose. We have participated constructively in the deliberations of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles. It is a matter of some regret to us that the concerns of all delegations, including those of several countries from various regions and my own delegation's concerns are not fully reflected in the text, even though some issues of importance to us have been addressed and others clarified through the Legal Adviser's formal opinion. We believe that a consensus could, and indeed should, have been reached. We for our part worked hard to try to secure consensus in the Committee, being convinced that this would strengthen support for the Declaration and facilitate its effective follow-up. We would like to express our deep appreciation to the Chairman for his untiring efforts to guide the Committee towards a positive outcome.

Our readiness to accept and to consider a Declaration has been based upon the belief that the purpose of development is the promotion of economic and social progress consistent with human dignity and social justice. These are also the goals of the ILO. We remain convinced that the ILO must pursue labour standards in their own right as an integral part of the social progress of society, and recognize them as benchmarks in the processes of social and economic development. In doing so it must fully recognize the difficulties faced by developing countries in the process of application and implementation of labour standards as they progressively remove poverty and deprivation, and work to secure higher standards of living for their peoples.

We support the work of this Organization in raising the standards of protection of workers in all countries within the legal and political parameters laid down in the ILO Constitution. We believe that the best way to promote and strengthen labour standards is to achieve universal ratification of Conventions and strengthen the capacity of governments to implement them through technical cooperation and the promotion of economic development, which provides the best means to achieve higher standards of social justice. National legislation, national implementation measures and awareness campaigns provide the most effective basis to achieve these ends.

My delegation has the following observations to offer on the text of the Declaration and its follow-up currently before us for adoption. The Declaration, we believe, reaffirms a moral and political commitment to promote and observe fundamental principles and rights at work, bearing in mind specific national circumstances and the level of socio-economic development achieved by each society. It reaffirms the role of the ILO as the sole international body that is competent to set and deal with labour standards in conjunction with the promotion of social justice and progress. It is not legally binding. It does not in any manner undermine the principle of voluntarism or replace existing ILO Conventions on core labour standards, nor does it affect the objective of promoting their universal ratification. All actions envisaged under the Declaration conform strictly to the existing ILO Constitution and to the obligations contained therein. The Declaration reaffirms the obligation of the Organization to provide technical assistance for the promotion of the Declaration's objectives and those of the ILO. The follow-up to the Declaration is purely promotional in nature and not punitive or complaints-based. The Declaration or its follow-up cannot, in any manner whatsoever, be invoked, or otherwise provide a basis or justification, for the adoption or promotion of trade measures of any kind or of protectionist trade measures, nor may they be invoked for the use of labour standards for protectionist purposes or for any other measures, including those calling into question the comparative advantage of any country.

The ILO thereby reaffirms its determination that labour standards are promoted for the betterment of workers, and not for protectionist ends. In this context, Members should be able to call upon the Organization whenever they are unjustly targeted by protectionist lobbies. The ILO should also engage in advocacy and awareness-raising against unilateral trade measures or protectionist measures that can undermine the welfare of workers in both developed and developing countries.

It is on the basis of the above understanding that my delegation extends its support to the Declaration and its follow-up. We also recognize that its significance and effectiveness will be eroded should the above understanding not be pursued and implemented in letter and in spirit. We remain hopeful that the foregoing parameters will also enable the ILO to enhance its relevance and role in the areas covered by its constitutional mandate, and thereby to emerge strengthened in the coming century.

Original German: Mr. WILLERS (Government delegate, Germany) -- The 18 June 1998 could become an historic date for the ILO if the Conference, at the end of this debate, adopts the Declaration on the fundamental principles and rights at work. If it does, the ILO will be proving that it has understood the signals coming from Copenhagen and Singapore and that it is worthy of its role as the competent Organization for the observance of fundamental workers' rights around the world.

The text of the Declaration and its follow-up were the subject of intensive and lengthy discussions in the past two weeks. At the outset the positions on individual parts of the Declaration and the follow-up were so divergent that it seemed almost Utopian to hope for an agreement. Nevertheless, on most points we have moved towards each others' positions, sometimes after very bitter struggles.

Unfortunately, the decision could not be taken on Monday night without a vote.

I would venture to state that no delegation and no group would recognize their original position in the results of the discussion. All, and that is true of my delegation as well, all have had to make concessions.

I now turn to those among you who believed on Monday night that you could not support the result of the discussion. I am convinced that your hesitation does not mean that you attach little importance to the protection of fundamental workers' rights. Your efforts above all to inject more into paragraph 3 of the Declaration have to be understood rather against the background of national concerns and preoccupations. Even if we believe these concerns to be exaggerated or unjustified, we must take them seriously and we must tackle them, not only here and now but also in the future when applying the Declaration. My delegation is ready to do this. Therefore, I would appeal to you: Do not exclude yourself from the consensus!

Nobody can speak about the draft Declaration without praising the extremely important role of the Chairperson of the Committee. I will not even try to surpass previous speakers in my search for appropriate adjectives in order to describe this role. Instead, I would like to mention a thought that has occurred to me: the title of the Declaration remained a bone of contention up until the end. Why did it not occur to anyone simply to propose calling it the Mark Moher Declaration? There can only be one answer to this question: because everyone in the Committee respected your modesty, Sir.

Mr. ZAINAL (Workers' delegate, Malaysia) -- I stand before you today in support of the decisions of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles of the ILO concerning fundamental rights and its appropriate follow-up mechanism.

There can be no doubt that the ILO is the only organization in the world that has a tripartite structure and its functions are firmly founded upon the concept and spirit of tripartism. The ILO is therefore a unique organization with no parallel anywhere in the world and we in the Workers' group are proud that this Organization, whose partners are an integral part of its structure, works for the betterment of workers throughout the world.

In view of this structure, we in the Workers' group wish to emphasize strongly that the Declaration is a very essential document for employers, workers and the other social partners. If we wish to achieve progress, advance humankind and promote the economic and social development of our nationals, we should support the work of the ILO.

In addition to my membership of the Workers' group and the Governing Body, I have been personally involved in the work of processing this Declaration and the follow-up for the last four years. I know very well, even though I come from a developing country, that there is no way that the Declaration with its follow-up works against any country. I see no reason why some countries fear that the follow-up could be used against them. Last week we had very tense discussions in the Committee. I know that sometimes we spent whole nights without sleep and found ourselves still looking at our documents the next morning. Sometimes we did not know what the next day would bring. Nevertheless, I am proud of the partnership spirit that prevailed in the Committee. At last, on Monday, we came together to accept the Declaration and follow-up.

I should thank the other partners, Governments and Employers for accepting the Declaration, even though there may be some unhappiness with some aspects of it.

Frankly speaking, even though we in the Workers' group are not 100 per cent happy with the Declaration, we accept it and the follow-up in a spirit of compromise and I do hope that delegates will adopt it by consensus to see the spirit of tripartism in the ILO prevail. As I said earlier, nowhere else in the United Nations system can you find a unique organization like this.

The wording of preambular paragraphs 3 and 5 of the Declaration give a clear indication that there is no particularism. No member country can exploit another for its own interest. Preambular paragraphs 3 and 5 also show clearly the obligation on member States to ratify the Declaration as a Convention in their own country. If a country finds it difficult to implement this, it should seek assistance from the ILO.

We can thus see that the Declaration with its follow-up in no way works against any member country, as some of us fear. Therefore, in this short intervention, I call upon Governments, Employers and my fellow Workers' delegates to support this Declaration and its follow-up. Let us work together for the future, for the benefit of mankind in the entire world.

Original French: Mr. BLONDEL (Workers' delegate, France) -- We have just heard the report of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles. On behalf of the workers of my country, I would like to share with you our satisfaction at having succeeded in laying the foundations for practices which we hope in the long run will enable us to ensure better application of fundamental standards.

However, we cannot deny the fact that the discussion on this issue was a long and difficult one, with some governments doing their utmost to put safeguards around both standards and their effects.

The compromise we reached was necessary for the International Labour Organization to publicly confirm its role on the international stage. A failure would have been overwhelming for the Organization. I therefore welcome the success we have achieved.

But I would like to say that I too have a dream, a dream of the day when we will find a footnote attached to WTO declarations and deliberations that states that the said declarations and deliberations can have no impact on international labour standards. That would be a case of tit for tat and would to some extent safeguard the integrity of our international labour standards.

You will note that in the text we still have some ambiguities, and there are certainly some inconsistencies between the English, French and Spanish versions. This, for example, is the case of paragraph 5, and this is a cause for regret because I think it is likely to have consequences on the effectiveness of the Declaration.

Above all, I wish to reiterate from this rostrum that the workers will not accept semantic disputes about freedom of association and the right to association.

This is the ILO and the primary objective of the Organization is to protect workers' rights and ensure that the right to and expression of the right of association are respected in the world of work. Articles 3 and 4 of Convention No. 87 protect trade unions from possible interference by administrative authorities. The Convention was adopted just after the end of the Second World War, and it affirmed the freedom that the world had regained and the right for trade unions, which generally speaking had been dissolved, to reconstitute themselves.

When the Franco regime disappeared, freedom of association returned; it was a source of hope after the regime of General Pinochet in Chile. In other words, barring dangerous revisionism, there can be no substitute for this notion.

The right of association which we demand is an integral part of human rights. Freedom of association is the right to association at work. This right enshrines a spirit which we do not intend to abandon. I would urge Employers, who might find the word startling, to carefully reread Convention No. 87.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Employers' group, the rights I am talking about are yours too, and I hope that you will never have to defend them against attack.

I regret the ambiguity inherent in subparagraph (a) of paragraph 2 of the Declaration of Principles. These reservations I have just expressed are a reflection of the strong attachment of workers to the ILO. I am proud, however, that we have not wasted this opportunity.

Ms. JANJUA (Government adviser, Pakistan) -- Pakistan is committed to the promotion and protection of workers' rights. These rights are guaranteed in our Constitution. Our commitment to the promotion and implementation of these rights is also reflected in the large number of ILO Conventions ratified by Pakistan, including five of the seven core Conventions. We have always stood by our constitutional obligations as well as our conviction that the promotion and implementation of workers' rights can ensure social justice.

Pakistan's position regarding the Declaration has been clear and consistent. We were concerned about the motivation for pushing this issue on the agenda of the Conference. We were, however, told that the Declaration would only be a reaffirmation of the principles and objectives of the ILO Constitution; that it would take away the immunity of non-ratifying States from the ILO supervisory mechanisms; that it would be a corollary to Copenhagen; and it would be a promotional document with a promotional follow-up.

The document we adopt today unfortunately does not live up to these promises. The Declaration does not mention that it is only a reaffirmation of all that member States have already accepted. The follow-up mechanism is promotional in name only. The annual review and the global report have a built-in adversarial content. A major element of the follow-up mechanism, the global report, was added despite the concerns or objections of many countries. The global report, despite earlier assurances to the contrary, is duplicative and will entail double scrutiny. It will be country-specific and case-specific. It is likely to target countries -- if not now, then later.

Notwithstanding all this, Pakistan had agreed to the follow-up in the draft Declaration in deference to the strong desire expressed by workers who wanted non-ratifying States to be brought within the purview of the supervisory mechanism. Therefore, the first element of the follow-up, the annual review, was logical, and even if it was not truly promotional, was acceptable.

The global report is a different issue. It is supposed to provide the "teeth" which the ILO has so far lacked. It has been conceived as a country-specific report, whose ostensible purpose is to assess the needs for technical assistance, but whose real objective is to deal with "hard cases" -- the "particularly pervasive, persistent cases of policy failure", to quote an eminent Employer representative. But we fear that the global report may become a publicity device to appease, if I may say so, powerful lobbies, and that, if used injudiciously, it could become a broad "social label".

Despite our grave misgivings, we were prepared to accept even the global report. However, in order to ensure against misuse of the Declaration for protectionist and other coercive purposes, our delegation sought two categorical safeguards in the document: first, an affirmation that the ILO is the sole international organization mandated to set and deal with international labour standards; and secondly, an affirmation that the promotion of labour standards cannot justify the use of unilateral or coercive actions, protectionist measures or measures that undermine the comparative advantage of countries.

We did not consider that the inclusion of these two concepts would cause problems, yet sadly, these provisions were strongly opposed in the discussions.

Through a strenuous process of negotiations, we achieved an agreement and a paragraph affirming the ILO's mandated role as the organization competent to deal with international labour standards, but the paragraph dealing with non-acceptance of protectionist and other measures was finally discarded.

A final text was presented with which, clearly, a number of governments still have problems. Even worse, additional and non-negotiated language was added to the end of paragraph 3 of the Declaration which could open the door to creating the links between labour standards and other conditions which we have all stated that we do not endorse.

In the circumstances it became necessary to have recourse to a vote on the Declaration.

The Pakistan delegation interprets the last part of paragraph 3 of the Declaration after the word "support" as meaning nothing more than that the ILO should abide by its Constitution. We note that, according to paragraph 357 of the Committee's Report, the Legal Adviser specified that the international organizations with which the ILO had concluded agreements under article 12 of its Constitution included all members of the United Nations family and the IAEA. No formal agreement, as we understand, has been concluded between the ILO and the Bretton Woods institutions or WTO, and paragraph 3 of the Declaration applies only to existing agreements.

Our concerns regarding the Declaration arise from the nature of the process even more than its text, a document on whose promotional, non-legally binding, non-country specific and non-punitive nature we all were agreed, yet for which there was a remarkable reluctance to write these things into the text.

The vehemence with which the exclusivity of the ILO's mandate and non-abuse of the Declaration, its follow-up and labour standards were contested, even to the point of resorting to a vote, only reinforced this fear. It is significant that of the 14 substantive amendments proposed by the Asia and Pacific group, only a few made it to the text, and then, we are sorry to add, in a very diluted form. None of the crucial ideas espoused by the group found a place in the document.

The special nature of the ILO voting procedure does not fully reflect the fact that a significant number of developing countries did not support important parts of the text of the Declaration. Some, have believed that this Declaration will be the saviour of the ILO. Only history will determine this, but we fear that unless the implementation of this Declaration is approached judiciously, it could be open to abuse by vested interests for protectionist and coercive purposes, especially and unfortunately against developing countries. We sincerely hope that these fears will be prove to be misplaced.

Finally, I would like to place on record the sincerest appreciation of the Pakistan delegation for Ambassador Mark Moher for conducting extremely difficult negotiations with much perseverance and good humour.

We would also like to express our appreciation for the manner in which both the Vice-Chairpersons of the Workers' and Employers' groups represented the interests of their respective groups. We hope to work with them closely in the years to come.

Mr. RANANAND (Government delegate, Thailand) -- Thailand welcomes the Conference's adoption of the Declaration on fundamental human rights at work and its follow-up mechanism, as a historic landmark in the efforts of the world community to promote the fundamental rights of workers.

However, my delegation wishes to take this opportunity to put on record several concerns in relation to the Declaration and its follow-up.

As regards paragraph 3 of the Declaration, which requires the ILO to assist its Members in attaining the objectives of the Declaration by making full use of its resources and by encouraging other international organizations to support these efforts, it is our unshakeable position that the language used in this paragraph precludes attaching conditions to any assistance rendered to member States either by the ILO itself or by other international organizations from whom support may be sought. This applies particularly to support given to countries in economic difficulties by international financial institutions, which cannot be made conditional upon compliance with labour standards. Furthermore, our position in this regard is based on the understanding that the role of international organizations, referred to in paragraph 3, is merely to assist Members by offering technical cooperation and advisory services in response to their established and express needs. We maintain that, with the adoption of the Declaration, the competence and credibility of the ILO as the proper forum for setting and monitoring labour standards have been effectively enhanced, indeed re-confirmed, providing no further excuse for any ILO Member to undermine this competence and credibility by persisting in endeavours to deal with labour standards in other fora.

Mr. ISAWA (Government delegate, Japan) -- On behalf of the Asia-Pacific group I would like to make a few remarks on the ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work.

First of all, I would like to express our group's sincere appreciation for the untiring efforts of the Chairperson of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles to strive for a consensus on the text. We congratulate him on his energy and valiant efforts, as well as the fruitful results that have come out of it.

This has been a long and, at times, difficult process. The Asia-Pacific group has worked intensively to support the development of the Declaration. The Asia-Pacific group has always felt that the Declaration must be adopted by consensus.

Today, we have the opportunity to adopt what is the final outcome of over a year of intense negotiations. We hope that we can all come together in this plenary session and adopt this Declaration by consensus.

From the beginning, the group has had some concerns, which are on the record. While not all of these concerns have been satisfied in the final text, in light of the explanations given during the discussion the Asia-Pacific group will go long with the consensus.

I would like to reiterate that the Asia-pacific group places great importance on the promotion of the core international labour standards and reaffirms its commitment to observe them.

The Asia-Pacific group sincerely hopes that this Declaration becomes a positive and promotional instrument to reaffirm the important fundamental principles and rights of the ILO and to assist members in their efforts to promote them. For our part, the members of the Asia-Pacific group will continue to further our work towards this end.

I would like once again, on behalf of the Asia-Pacific group, to thank the Chairman and the Vice Chairs of the Committee and the staff of the Office for their incredible efforts in the difficult task to reach a compromise on the draft Declaration and its follow-up.

Original Spanish: Mr. JOUBLANC (Government adviser and substitute delegate, Mexico) -- The Government of Mexico would like to express its unequivocal commitment to the implementation of rights at work and its adherence to the International Labour Organization, among whose most notable features is the progressive development of international labour standards.

We give our wholehearted support to the substance of the ILO Declaration of principles concerning fundamental rights at work. Similarly, I reiterate Mexico's conviction that economic growth and development as the result of an increase in trade and greater trade liberalization will contribute to the creation of more and better jobs and the implementation of labour standards.

Despite our full agreement with the noble objectives pursued, the Government delegation of Mexico abstained in the vote in the Committee on the text of the Declaration because it considered that, although the Declaration is of a promotional nature, it must not create new legal obligations, be legally binding, replace existing mechanisms or impose responsibility on States for non-compliance with ratified Conventions. The text did not emphasize clearly enough that the Declaration and its follow-up may not be used to justify trade measures.

In this connection, the call for other international organizations to support the ILO's efforts, as set out in the Declaration, must not and cannot be interpreted as meaning the encouragement of any linkage between labour standards and trade. The Mexican delegation believes that any such link would be detrimental both to fundamental labour standards and to trade and would also be inconsistent with the ILO's exclusive mandate on labour matters throughout the world.

Mr. BANDUSENA (Government delegate, Sri Lanka) -- May I take this opportunity to congratulate Ambassador Mark Moher, the two Vice-Chairpersons and the Declaration secretariat of the ILO for their hard work, fortitude, perspicacity and tenacity with regard to this historic Declaration.

My delegation believes that this Declaration would be beneficial to all member States, employers and workers as they move into the next millennium.

The Sri Lankan Government delegation would also like to take this opportunity to set forth the concerns of my delegation in respect of this newly adopted Declaration. This Declaration, entitled the ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work, was deliberated on and negotiated extensively and my delegation actively participated and placed a great deal of importance on it especially with regard to developing nations.

The historic Declaration is a product of the concerted effort, flexibility and accommodation exhibited by the tripartite constituents of the ILO. We have ratified 36 of the ILO Conventions, including 4 fundamental Conventions and, as a State Member, have continuously and consistently complied with and reported under our respective obligations.

My delegation is concerned with the possible linkage of labour standards and trade and at the possibility of extraneous organizations interfering in ILO-related issues. However, we hope the obligations under this Declaration will assist member States in their efforts to create the necessary climate for economic and social development.

Original Arabic: Mr. ELAMAWY (Minister of Manpower and Emigration, Egypt) -- I should like to express the thanks and appreciation of the Egyptian delegation to Ambassador Mark Moher, the President of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles, for his wise presidency and his continued efforts to reach a consensus text for the Declaration and its follow-up mechanism.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to agree on a number of substantial amendments submitted by several delegations, including my own. Consequently, the Egyptian delegation would not be able to vote on the draft Declaration, should it be put to vote. Meanwhile, we reiterate Egypt's commitment to the rights of workers, as reflected in Egypt's ratification of Convention No. 59 and a further six core Conventions; Convention No. 7 is currently undergoing the ratification process.

Egypt considers that the draft Declaration contains a number of shortcomings which are of grave concern, particularly as no attempt has been made to respond to our preoccupations. We wished to eliminate any possibility of misuse of the Declaration which might damage the interests of workers, at a time when we are concentrating on improving the development process and raising the standard of living of our peoples.

Therefore, I should like to voice the following reservations, on behalf of the Egyptian Government, regarding the draft ILO Declaration of principles concerning fundamental rights at work.

Firstly, we consider that the wording in the last three lines of paragraph 3 lends itself to possible abuse by those who would like to introduce labour standards in other international organizations as a step towards linking labour standards to the globalization process, in the field of international trade or elsewhere. The Egyptian Government would have supported this paragraph if the wording "as well as by encouraging all ..." until the end of the paragraph had been deleted. The Egyptian Government would like to emphasize that it cannot agree with any new conditionality in international economic relations which would hinder national efforts to boost economic and social development and alleviate poverty. My Government firmly opposes such an interpretation of this paragraph.

Secondly, we consider that the wording of the operative part of paragraph 5 should be more specific and categorical in denying the use of this Declaration and its follow-up mechanism to justify or in any way assist in the adoption of trade or economic measures or restrictive or punitive measures of any kind which negatively affect the process of economic and social development. The reservations of the Egyptian Government regarding paragraphs 3 and 5 would also extend to any part of this Declaration and its follow-up, or to the Declaration in its entirety, if used by any party in a manner which would have been prohibited or avoided had the amendments suggested by the Egyptian Government to those two paragraphs been approved. Obviously, the Egyptian Government's reservations relate to the absence of a meaningful safeguard against the possible misuse or abuse of this Declaration in conjunction with restrictive or punitive measures of any kind.

With the exception of the shortcomings of the two aforementioned paragraphs, the Egyptian Government welcomes and supports the substance and objectives of this Declaration in promoting the implementation of fundamental labour standards and the respect for workers' rights. The Egyptian Government has sought to participate constructively throughout the different stages of the deliberations leading to the final text of this Declaration. A number of important elements of this Declaration were introduced by the Egyptian Government delegation in coordination with others, such as the priority that the ILO should give to the problems of migrant workers, the unemployed and other categories of workers with special social needs, and the priority it should accord to promoting job creation and mobilizing necessary external funding, and to encouraging efforts to attain these objectives.

The Egyptian Government delegation would like to emphasize that the rights of migrant workers constitute an essential component of this Declaration. The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation based upon national extraction is one of the essential areas to be fully covered by its follow-up.

The Egyptian Government delegation would like to state, for the record, that it considers that the observations annexed to the report of the Committee on the Declaration concerning certain legal questions raised during the discussions to be of particular interpretative significance since the agreement on the text was based upon them.

Moreover, the Egyptian Government delegation would like to state its fundamental understanding that nothing in this Declaration or its follow-up may be interpreted as: firstly, authorizing the ILO to in any way exceed its constitutional mandate -- all provisions must be strictly interpreted within the context of the constitutional mandate of the ILO; secondly, authorizing or abetting the adoption of restrictive or punitive measures; thirdly, authorizing the International Labour Office to invite, encourage or abet other international forums in adopting restrictive measures or conditionalities in relation to labour standards; fourthly, imposing any additional legal obligations on member States; fifthly, implying that international labour Conventions are binding upon States which have not ratified them; sixthly, providing an excuse, justification or pretext for States not to ratify international Conventions; seventhly, establishing new supervisory mechanisms or in any way undermining the proposed evaluation or improvement of the current procedures and mechanisms; eighthly, subjecting countries to situations of double jeopardy or double standards; ninthly, bringing into question the principle of applying the principles of the ILO Constitution with due regard to differences between countries as regards their economic situation, industrial development, social structures, structural prospects and any other relevant factors.

Mistakes exist in the text of Provisional Record No. 20, in paragraphs 268 and 269 of the English text, raised by the Egyptian delegation in yesterday's meeting. Unfortunately, the copy that was distributed today did not contain the corrections and my delegation will give them once again to the secretariat so that a corrigenda can be included in the final report.

Original French: Mr. CHOTARD (Government delegate, France) -- The French delegation supports this Declaration. It is a positive and measured document which, I must say, was developed in a climate of good will with complete transparency and above all under the guidance of a remarkable Chairperson.

Like other delegations, we would have liked to see other aspects included in the Declaration but, like the others, we have tried to reach consensus and the text which has been submitted to us is, we feel, well balanced.

Operative paragraph 2 sets out our values beautifully. Paragraph 3 urges the ILO to assist its Members -- which is positive. Paragraphs 2 and 3 should be seen as complementary.

However, what I would also like to emphasize is that this Declaration is the culmination of a process we all remember only too well. The 1994 Report of the Director-General, Mr. Michel Hansenne, set the process in motion, thus giving us the chance to update the ILO's ideals. The momentum began and was endorsed in Copenhagen. Now we are at the end of the road. But the end of the road should mark the beginning of the ILO's journey in terms of new activities. I am convinced, and I bet you, it will not be long before we will be talking about the "Geneva Declaration".

Original Spanish: Mr. FUNES DE RIOJA (Employers' delegate, Argentina) -- For the countries of our region, which have affirmed our commitment to political democracy and the market economy within the context of globalization, it seemed logical and necessary to recognize the value of a set of principles basically reflecting the concept of respect for human dignity, although indeed we consider them inherent in the very fact of belonging to this Organization.

These key elements of an international labour policy are nourished essentially by the principles and values contained in the core Conventions. There is no need to go further than the Constitution and impose new obligations on member States; nor should the principles be used for any other than labour purposes.

The Employers of our region have actively participated in the elaboration and approval of the Declaration and we reaffirm our willingness to adhere to these principles and thus strengthen the role of the ILO. We appreciate the broad scope given to the concept of freedom of association in the Spanish text, since, as Mr. Blondel pointed out, freedom of association applies to both workers and employers. We are conscious of the need to promote these principles, which we consider indisputable, in a context where globalization requires explicit rules and we have no doubt that their enunciation will not mean creating new criteria or a new set of labour rights that would require economically unsustainable levels of protection. We are simply laying down a set of values which should represent the basic order and fundamental standards in the world of work.

The general agreement reached by the Committee, apart from isolated questions of procedure or voting periods which served only to show the overwhelming majority for consensus, politically speaking, confirms the importance of the results obtained. The combination of the Declaration with the follow-up and promotion mechanisms will guarantee its implementation with a view to obtaining universal application. The ILO will thereby have effectively fulfilled its mandate.

In addition to congratulating our spokesperson, Mr. Potter, and the Chairperson of the Committee, we would like to express our appreciation the effort made by the Office over these months to prepare a text which could be adopted by consensus. Like Mr. Chotard, I must also pay tribute to the efforts of the Director-General in putting forward ideas showing us the way forward to change and reaffirming values.

This is essentially how we have arrived at what we hope will be a consensus. On behalf of the Latin American employers, it is of particular satisfaction to me that you, Mr. President, should be presiding over the Conference that approves the Declaration. I should like to congratulate you, and all of us, on what has been achieved.

Mr. CHOWDHURY (Government delegate, Bangladesh) -- By ratifying six core Conventions, Bangladesh has unambiguously demonstrated its readiness to uphold workers' rights. The ILO Declaration which seeks to reaffirm fundamental principles in this regard is viewed by our delegation as a positive initiative.

Ambassador Mark Moher's contribution to bringing the Committee's endeavours to fruition is deserving of the highest praise. Similarly, we would like to place on record our appreciation of the efforts of the Director-General and the Office.

We would be failing in our responsibilities, however, were we not to emphasize the point about the concerns expressed by us and others as the deliberations unfolded. These are well-known and need not be repeated.

These concerns, we note with a modicum of regret, have not been adequately reflected in the document. Nevertheless, we will support its adoption. We will do so because we believe that this is an effort to uphold principles to which we are fundamentally devoted. We will do so because of our confidence that the ILO and its member States will together ensure that any loopholes are not exploited to promote protectionism or undesirable linkages.

Finally, we will endorse the Declaration in the spirit of upholding the rights of workers and social justice for all, goals to which Bangladesh is deeply and abidingly committed. I thank you, Mr. President.

Original Spanish: Mr. SUAREZ (Government adviser, Venezuela) -- From the very outset, the Government of Venezuela expressed its interest and support for the idea of an ILO Declaration to promote ILO member States' practical compliance with the fundamental labour Conventions.

This should come as no surprise bearing in mind that our country has signed all those core Conventions and that the current President of the Republic has close and long-standing ties with the International Labour Organization and its fight for social justice. This commitment was endorsed personally by the President of Venezuela in his recent address to this session of the Conference.

The Venezuelan Government has been and is, nonetheless, in favour of a declaration on the ILO's fundamental Conventions which will steer the Organization toward a policy of greater cooperation with its member countries in order to achieve the goals of those Conventions, and by opting for cooperation as the basic way to reach those goals, the Venezuelan Government rejected and rejects any attempt to use sanction or penalties instead, either by the ILO or by any other international organization, State or group of States. This conviction has led us to take the floor on several occasions in the Committee on the Declaration of Principles to ensure that the paragraphs of the Declaration contained more express safeguards thereon. We abstained at the last sitting of the Committee when none of our amendments were lucky enough to be approved. Venezuela had good reason to act this way -- for reasons which were shown finally to be unjustified in recent years we have been subjected to trade restrictions which have meant large economic losses for us.

Today, while we still maintain that the Declaration should more explicitly dispel such fears, the Venezuelan Government nonetheless echoes its workers and employers in welcoming the ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work and its follow-up and pledges that it will continue to carry out its labour policy in accordance with the letter and spirit of this new and undoubtedly historic social document.

Last, we should like to pay particular tribute to Ambassador Moher for the excellent way in which he conducted the Committee's work and to the Director-General, Mr. Hansenne, who began the process which is culminating today and which we hope will point us in a direction which will be of benefit to all member States of the ILO.

Mr. TABANI (Employers' delegate, Pakistan) -- The Officers of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles have submitted a very important document for adoption by the Conference. After the June 1996 resolution of the General Council of the International Organization of Employers in June 1996, inviting the ILO to promote the principles of fundamental workers' rights, this document is considered by the Employers' group as a good achievement.

While this Declaration has strengthened the spirit of tripartism within the ILO, it also shows the unity of purpose of all the three constituents with respect to the mandate and mission of the ILO.

The Fourth Asian-Pacific High-Level Employers' Conference held in Seoul in the first week of September 1997, whilst reaffirming the values of and respect for workers' rights, supported the idea of a Declaration provided it did not impose new obligations on member States and did not attempt to link labour standards in any way to trade arrangements.

Mr. Potter, in his statement this morning, clarified the opposition of the Employers' group to any attempt to link trade with ILO standards. The statement of the Chairperson of the Committee also helped to address some of these concerns. Furthermore, the statement of the Legal Advisor at paragraph 325 of the report clarifies the legal and constitutional status of the proposed Declaration.

In the light of these observations, this Declaration, which is an expression of the shared values of the tripartite constituents, is supported by the Asian Employers for adoption by the Conference. I take this opportunity to compliment Ambassador Mark Moher, Mr. Potter and Mr. Brett for their patience and understanding which has brought about this consensus.

Mr. SAMET (Government delegate, United States) -- We often overuse the word "historic", but we believe there is no element of doubt that what we do today meets the meaning of that word. We have walked a large step along the path begun in 1919 with the establishment of the International Labour Organization and brought forward with the Declaration of Philadelphia in 1944.

We are today putting in place the foundation stone that will allow the ILO its full place in the global economy of the twenty-first century, and it is an action completely consistent with the vision of those who came before us. In some small way perhaps we are here because of the direct challenge raised by the Singapore WTO Ministerial Conference in December 1996, but we are also here because what we do is deeply rooted in the tradition of the ILO.

To some extent we are also here because we have collectively recognized the need to show the same faith and energy for the concerns of workers and the need for social justice as we have shown to establish the mechanisms for economic growth and trade liberalization. This is precisely and wholly consistent with the historical mandate of the ILO and the Declaration of Philadelphia.

As Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman, said here last week, we must see to it that the paths of trade liberalization and the implementation of fundamental labour standards are mutually reinforcing objectives, not mutually exclusive.

The Declaration and follow-up that we are to put in place today in this plenary has two important elements. First, a clear political and moral recommitment to the fundamental rights and principles enshrined in the ILO, and secondly the accountability of all member States through the new reporting mechanisms. We believe it essential that this must be a dynamic and serious process with a really credible follow-up, holding us all up to scrutiny for these fundamental rights, or it will prove a short-lived result and we will fall short of the legacy of those who have gone before us.

It is unfortunate that during our Committee sessions we heard far too many concerns about what should not be done and who should not do it and far too little discussion about how to enlist all possible means to advance the objectives of the Declaration and its follow-up.

For our part we see it as an absolute responsibility of this Organization to seek supporting from others for our work, just as we consider it necessary for the ILO to help them meet their objectives.

This includes the World Trade Organization and the international financial institutions. As President Clinton made clear here in Geneva last month, we should seek an accelerated collaboration between the ILO and WTO.

To us, this is not a new or threatening notion, but a practical principle embedded in the Declaration of Philadelphia itself and indeed in the entire United Nations system.

In this regard we viewed the debate about paragraph 5 as somehow unnecessary and a distraction from our true objectives, and it would have been preferable to avoid this loss of focus on the central aspects of the Declaration and follow-up.

To us paragraph 5 makes only two points: our opposition to protectionism and our support for the principle of comparative advantage. To us this is an important but still a tautological proposition. We have consistently acted to oppose all forms of protectionism and that will remain our firm commitment. We always believe that those most in opposition to the Declaration and follow- up pose by far the greater threat of protectionism as they have sought to impose a completely unreal wall between the imperatives of workers' rights and trade liberalization.

For our part we will also oppose that form of protectionism that might seek to shield from view the denial of the workers' basic rights that are the subject of this Declaration and follow-up.

Paragraph 5 can place no possible limits, legal or otherwise, on our trade policies. This is clear from Report VII. In the ILO, nothing can be done that is inconsistent with the rights and obligations of its members, and nothing that is done at WTO impinges on our ability or right to condition trade benefits on labour standards. Nor can anything be done here that would limit the freedom of expression or how anyone might choose to refer to this Declaration and follow-up in the future.

The Declaration of Philadelphia did not only underline the importance of freedom of association, it also did the same with regard to freedom of expression.

We want to profoundly thank the Chairperson of our Committee, Ambassador Moher, for his hugely capable leadership in obtaining this result.

We also wish to note the vision of our Director-General which helped make our action today possible. Of course we must all recognize that it was the collaboration between the Employers' and the Workers' groups led by Mr. Potter and Mr. Brett that was essential to this outcome.

The ILO has a new opportunity for relevance and leadership in the next century. It would have been unthinkable to fail in this effort, and today we believe we act in the greatest spirit and hope of all people in all nations of our world.

For the United States of America, today's session recalls for us our unique connection with this Organization. For while the significance of the fact that the United States did not join the League of Nations has been much debated, it is more often overlooked that the ILO was the single Organization of the League that we did join and the only such Organization to survive the devastation of the Second World War.

Today we are once again reminded why for us the ILO holds such a special place in our history of involvement in international organizations and why it was that our beloved Secretary of Labor under President Franklin Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, invested so much of her energy in the ILO.

I would like to conclude my remarks by recalling the words President Roosevelt asked Secretary Perkins to deliver for him to the framers of the Declaration of Philadelphia in April 1944. President Roosevelt said: "I see in the ILO a permanent instrument of representative character for the formulation of international policy on matters directly affecting the welfare of labour and for international collaboration in this field. I see it as a body with a requisite authority to formulate and secure the adoption of those basic minimum standards which shall apply throughout the world to the conditions of employment. But more than that it must be the agency for decision and for action on those economic and social matters related to the welfare of working people which are practical for industry and designed to enhance the opportunities for a good life for peoples the world over."

To us the promise of this Organization is just as great today as it was then and with this sitting, with this plenary, with this Conference we are being faithful to this promise and we deeply, deeply hope that history will judge this to have been so.

Mr. DOUGLAS (Workers' delegate, New Zealand) -- We have a saying in New Zealand when something momentous is happening: -- it's a great day for the Irish. I am not quite sure why we say that, but I think really today is going to be a huge day for the ILO, expressing that same sort of expectation and hope.

I had the privilege as a very young man to meet a man who presided over the Philadelphia Conference. He was Walter Nash, and he subsequently became the Prime Minister of New Zealand. He told me, in talking about the Philadelphia Conference, that he was sure that the people participating did not really understand the significance of the work that they were doing. I have that same feeling about this meeting today. Nobody now calls into question the Declaration of Philadelphia, those mighty words that say that labour is not a commodity to be freely exchanged in a bazaar of all other commodities. The Declaration of Philadelphia is a powerful instrument for decency in our world, and in the complexities of a globalizing circumstance.

I have not only got up to speak on behalf of New Zealand workers, but to indicate to you on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Regional Organization of the ICFTU, affiliating 27 countries and 30 million workers, that they enthusiastically support the outcome of this meeting.

We have for a long time been trying to come to grips with the globalization process. We have spent a long time and a lot of energy, creativity, thinking, argument and debate on the question of what options there are for workers and unions in this complex period of the reformation of world capital. We came down to a very fundamental point: simply said, we cannot have sustainable development without democracy. What we see in this Declaration is a material expression of that principle. And it seems to us that the problems that have been confronted in the Asian region now follow an unprecedented period of growth in which, regrettably, workers' rights did not advance. They actually regressed in that region of the world. The events in Indonesia are a timely reminder that if there is no democratic involvement of the population and observance of the rights of workers, then the social upheavals resulting from the denial of those rights will in fact be more traumatic for countries. And so I think that this Declaration has the potential to lift the ILO to a new status. The ILO should be the pre-eminent global institution in this period of globalization.

I want to deal with a question that has been raised particularly in the Asia-Pacific region by Governments and by Workers. It relates to their concerns about protectionism. We are opposed to protectionism. The issue is not an argument about maintaining your relative advantage through the great disadvantage of others, as is sometimes argued in unions in New Zealand. It is really about unleashing the creative potential of whole populations, in order to lift whole populations upwards through individuals meeting their own potential, and a reflection of the principles that are the very foundation of this Organization.

We have an expectation that can be delivered because we believe not enough attention has been given to the social dimension by the Bretton Woods institutions, and in particular the World Bank and the IMF, especially the IMF in its structural adjustment programmes. They have not recognized the rights that this Organization upholds. Those that fear the involvement of those institutions in this argument are missing the point. There is no purpose in production and the creation of wealth if it is not to alleviate poverty. When the Asia-Pacific regional unions met the President of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos, in the IPEC forum for Heads of Government in the Philippines, he made this point very forcibly to us. If the purpose of regional integration is not the alleviation of poverty, then it is not worthwhile doing. We support that sentiment.

We hope that the work of this session of the Conference will in fact ensure that the Conference will enthusiastically and unanimously endorse this document. There should not be a vote cast against this document. If there is, regrettably, it will call into question the very principles on which it is founded. There are a significantly greater number of voters here now than the 41 that attended at Philadelphia.

This Conference is in fact being watched. We in the Asia Pacific region of the ICFTU are confident that this will be a real milestone in the history of this Organization. It will be a great pleasure for us to look back and say "we were there".

I want to thank the President, and I certainly want to thank brother Brett and comrade Potter, because they are two of the best collective bargainers that I have come across. You have done a great job, and as for the referee, well, I used to play a bit of rugby in my time and I have seen some pretty crook referees, but, Sir, you did a good job for us.

Mr. NKOSI (Government delegate, South Africa) -- The South African Government delegation would like to express its profound appreciation and sincere admiration for the remarkable stewardship provided by Ambassador Mark Moher, the Chairperson of the Committee on the Declaration of Principles. Throughout our deliberations Ambassador Moher demonstrated unwavering and solid leadership without which it would have been difficult to reach this decisive and crucial moment. Indeed, the conclusions of the Committee will not just inspire present generations but they will continue to inspire future ones in their quest for social justice.

My delegation takes a deep sense of pride in the fact that it has been able to actively participate in these historic and momentous deliberations as a fully fledged representative of the democratic Government of South Africa. Throughout these deliberations we have been guided by the genuine desire to appeal to the conscience of the international community. We firmly believe that the fruit of economic growth derived from globalization and trade liberalization should translate into social progress and eventually social justice. Now, and not tomorrow, is the time for the ILO to reclaim its role and act decisively to narrow the widening social deficits. There can be no disputing the desirability and justice of helping all human beings lead fuller and richer lives in conditions of dignity and decency in which they can make the greatest possible contribution that their individual talents permit. Indeed, the misery of the most vulnerable can provoke upheaval, death and destruction that imperil humanity.

It is our expectation that this Declaration will be used prudently to promote the universal ratification and observance of the values and principles enshrined in the seven core Conventions of the ILO. We are also hopeful that the Declaration will encourage competent authorities to bring their law and practice into line with these values and principles.

The adoption of this Declaration on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is indeed a remarkable act of international significance. Through this Declaration the ILO will send a powerful message to the international community with respect to its competence, mandates and relevance. This Declaration is a product of years and months of intensive and sometimes robust discussion. It was regrettable that after several efforts aimed at forging concessions, the Committee on the Declaration of Principles had no alternative but to vote on amendments and on the texts. It is my delegation's sincere hope that this plenary session will unanimously adopt this Declaration without any recourse to a vote.

The text we have in front of us is the most forward-looking, positive and comprehensive response to the social dimension of trade liberalization. I need, however, to emphasize that my delegation will not support any attempt to use this Declaration for protectionist trade purposes, or to pursue self-serving commercial interests. Any attempt to use the Declaration for extraneous purposes will militate against our genuine endeavour to reaffirm the ILO's fundamental principles and values.

In conclusion, may I assure you that the Government of the Republic of South Africa will go an extra mile in cooperating with you to realize the objectives of the Geneva Declaration.

Mr. OWUOR (Employers' delegate, Kenya) -- May I add my voice to those who have congratulated the Chairperson of the Committee, Ambassador Moher, on his extraordinary report which enabled the Committee to adopt a widely accepted text on the Declaration. At the beginning of the Committee's work, fears were expressed about the possibility that the Committee may not agree on the text of the Declaration. These fears were based on a number of assumptions, including the fact that the Declaration and its follow-up mechanism would impose new constitutional obligations on member States; the fact that the Declaration would also impose on member States an obligation as to any Convention which those member States may have not ratified; the fact that its follow-up mechanism would involve double scrutiny -- or what some dubbed as "double-jeopardy" -- on member States, and the fact that the Declaration will be used as a protectionist trade measure, or as an excuse for calling into question the comparative advantage of member countries. However, through his leadership skills, combining tenacity, patience, diplomacy, flexibility and creativity, the Chairperson was able to allay all these fears and to move the Committee to "within a whisker of a consensus" on the text of the Declaration, to use the words of the distinguished United Kingdom Government delegate as noted in paragraph 382 of the report.

The text is a compromise document, as stated by the distinguished Government delegate of Namibia, speaking on behalf of 16 African countries. As noted in paragraph 336: "it was not possible to accommodate everyone's views fully in the text". He recalled in this respect that although the African group had lost some of their own points, the group would nonetheless support the Declaration because they were searching for a text with which they could live, despite the fact that it did not meet all their concerns.

In the proposed text we have a Declaration that contains a separate clause that prevents it from being used for protectionist purposes and which cannot be used to call into question the comparative advantage of any country. We have a Declaration which is legally non-binding, is promotional in nature and strictly adheres to the ILO Constitution, as does its follow-up mechanism. We have a Declaration which will expand new avenues of opportunities, in addition to the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO-IPEC), for the ILO to mobilize resources to help member countries, through its technical cooperation programmes to tackle problems associated with observance by member States of fundamental rights at work. By adopting this Declaration the ILO constituents will collectively be saying "No" to the worst forms of child labour, "No" to gross violations of the freedom of association of both employers and workers, "No" to forced labour, "No" to discrimination at work, and "No" to inequality of pay for work of equal value. The Declaration has reaffirmed the ILO's role as the constitutionally mandated international organization and the competent authority to set and deal with international labour standards, as well as promote fundamental rights at work.

By adopting this Declaration, the delegates to the 86th Session are privileged to undertake an historic task and participate in an event rivalled only by the founding of the ILO in 1919 and the Declaration of Philadelphia in 1944. Let the distinguished delegates assembled here send a clear message, and a unified message, to the rest of the world that they are ready to adopt a Declaration that will act as a universal reference text and a beacon of hope for the promotion of fundamental rights at work. In asking the distinguished delegates to adopt the declaration and its follow-up mechanism by consensus, may I conclude by thanking both the Employer and the Worker spokespersons, Mr. Ed Potter and Mr. Bill Brett for their courage and capacity for compromise which enabled the Committee to adopt this Declaration.

Mr SHINGUADJA (Government delegate, Namibia) -- Allow me to say a few words on the Declaration. As it has been said already by our Chairperson, it was concluded after tough negotiation. There was a time when the Committee on the Declaration of principles faced the dilemma of knowing where it was going. It realized then that something serious should be done, and a combined text was drafted. The whole process came to a halt. It was not easy to draft the document before us but, after some serious negotiation, some serious thinking, the document was produced.

I am not here to review what happened, but I felt it necessary to draw attention to some issues and to pay respects to some of the colleagues who have made this achievement.

I would like first of all to mention the Workers Vice-Chairperson Mr. Brett, who demonstrated his ability once again as a committed and true leader in the struggle for workers' rights. His vision was unquestionably clear to everybody who was present during his statement. Whenever there was any point of disagreement between Mr. Brett and the Africa Government group, which I coordinated, it always concerned the principle of the national interest.

Second, I also recognize and take note of the leadership displayed by Mr. Potter of the Employers' group. Mr. Potter proved himself to be a modern businessman in a modern world. It was Mr. Potter who pointed out during the discussion that the Spanish text appears to contain a misinterpretation in connection with freedom of association. To us, that was a very serious observation and, if that text has indeed been wrongly interpreted, it is up to the ILO to give careful thought to the matter.

Turning back to my colleagues on the Government side, I have the following words to say to specific people whom I have come to admire and respect as tough negotiators and astute diplomats. I pay special tribute to a number of individuals. To the Ambassador of Brazil for his directness and perspicacity. To the Ambassador of Hungary for his patience and resoluteness during our Committee Meetings and in private consultation. To the Ambassador of Mexico, for his well-informed opinions and professionalism during the negotiations.

To the Ambassador of India, for his clear presentation of the legal aspects of our discussions.

To the Ambassador of Pakistan, for his tough and constructive insistence on matters of national interest and long-term implications.

To the Japanese and Asian-Pacific spokesperson for his careful and balanced presentation which I found very much flexible but much too slippery to handle.

To the IMEC spokesperson for her openness in search of a common ground; she was ready to share her views with other groups in order to avoid any misunderstanding on the matters under consideration.

And turning back to my mother continent, Africa, I pay special respect to the Ambassador of Egypt who never takes the floor unless he has a point to make, and never without offering background information. This was very important to the newcomers to the Committee, and to the latecomers who could thus pick up a point of discussion.

And I would like to thank my own African Government group for its professional technical back-up which served to guide the negotiations. To these people I say, if I wavered or let them down, it was not through cowardice but because sometimes you must take one back step in order to go forward.

All this work was done under the able leadership and guidance of Ambassador Moher who has displayed his customary patience, consistency and authority in controlling the meeting.

Lastly, I would like to thank the interpreters who accompanied us until midnight in shaping text. I am appealing now to this Conference to adopt the Declaration. It is a bridge which you are building, a bridge which spans two centuries, carrying us into the next millennium. Will you opt to carry the ILO into the new age by adopting the draft Declaration before you?

Mr. JONZON (Government delegate, Sweden) -- When I asked for the floor hours ago, I intended to read out a well-prepared, thought-provoking speech. It is getting late, and I have changed my mind. And very honestly, I doubt that you have any reason to regret that. I would like now just to make two very short observations.

The first one is obvious: I associate myself and my delegation with all possible thanks and congratulations expressed from this rostrum earlier today, and perhaps later on. Secondly, I should like to say a word on substance. Four years ago, Heads of State and Government gave us our home work. With the valuable contribution of today, I think we have completed our task. You all remember what Nelson Mandela said: "Let us walk the last mile together". Let us take the last step together and adopt the Declaration by consensus, and with much applause.

Original German: Mr. THÜSING (Employers' delegate, Germany) --This Declaration has its origins in the dual positions of expectation and fear. Many people may see that their expectations have been fulfilled today, but some fears will certainly still be felt. The Declaration is the result of long and careful deliberations.

Concern has been voiced that the Declaration would establish links between the principles that govern the ILO and that you have committed yourselves to, and trade policy measures. A further issue of concern has been whether the follow-up mechanisms for which provision has been made exceed the mandate of our Organization. These concerns have also been felt by the Employers, as confirmed by certain of our colleagues who have spoken here today.

How can the employers in a country be less concerned about certain trade policy restrictions than the Governments of those countries? It would simply run counter to nature. The Employers' Vice-Chairperson in the Committee -- Mr. Potter -- once again this morning gave justification for and an explanation of why the Employers fully support the Declaration in its present form, and I have nothing to add to that.

What is decisive is that the Employers see the clear sense and expression of the Declaration, and can no longer find anything in it that could be taken as the justification or grounds for any protectionist measures.

As we can see from the Committee's report and the discussion we have had today, there is almost entire consensus on this instrument. Even if a few Governments are still hesitant, the seriousness of the approach nevertheless cannot be questioned. No Government, when dealing with such a politically fragile question, would leave itself open to suspicion and criticism from public opinion throughout the world, unless at least subjectively it was convinced that its position was well founded.

I understand the reasons for the positions of certain Government delegations. I think we must take their views into account and tell them they have no grounds for concern. I would like to do everything possible to facilitate this. Therefore, I would like to put on record my express assurance that the Employers will resist any attempts to use the Declaration or the follow-up mechanisms, either directly or indirectly, for any purpose that goes beyond their spirit and letter, as expressed in the report, and will reject any attempts to interpret them in such ways.

We will resist any attempts to misuse the Declaration in the ways in which these Governments fear. The Employers will do this with the same resolution with which we support the Declaration in the form it is before us.

I am making this statement not only as the Employers' delegate of Germany, but with the authority of my position as President of the Employers' group as a whole. If this assurance were to prompt those Governments not to withdraw from the consensus, their courage would make this a great hour for us all.

Original Spanish: Mr. LOAYZA BAREA (Government delegate, Bolivia) -- My delegation would like to welcome the efforts of the Chairperson of the Committee, Ambassador Moher, and in the light of the observations made in his statement today, the Government of Bolivia would like to underline the importance of the Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work and its follow-up. For that reason, it will accept the consensus, and will go along with it in the sense that the text of the Declaration on fundamental principles and its follow-up clearly state that they will not be used to justify the adoption or encouragement of any unilateral, multilateral or collective activities, including trade or other measures which call into question the comparative advantage of some countries, particularly the developing countries.

I should also like to emphasize that the main factor in the way of achieving the fundamental principles is poverty. We must therefore redouble our efforts to eradicate it and to achieve economic development on the basis of justice, equity and solidarity.

Mr. LYNE (Government adviser, United Kingdom) -- The representative of the Asia-Pacific group describes this as having been a long and, at times, difficult process. I thought that understatement was supposed to be a British prerogative, and indeed, with typical British understatement, Mr. Bill Brett of the Workers' group has described the Committee's deliberations as the toughest, the most gruelling, and exhaustive, that he has participated in at the ILO.

Given Mr. Brett's long experience as a tough negotiator, this is quite a tribute to certain delegates in the Committee.

Perhaps I, too, can pay tribute to the leadership shown by Mr. Brett and Mr. Potter in leading their respective groups in this exercise, and to the very constructive contributions made by Government representatives from different horizons and different continents, through a process of informal and then more formal discussions. This process has taken the better part of the last year and has now led, I believe, as we shall shortly see, to a very constructive result.

I would also join others in offering a very warm tribute to Ambassador Mark Moher of Canada, save for the fact that I have already done so, in the Committee, and there is no need to repeat what I said at the end of its last meeting, and which one of the preceding speakers, Mr. Tom Owuor, has kindly quoted for me. I would simply say that I genuinely meant what I said about Ambassador Moher's efforts, and that is a pretty rare admission for a professional diplomat to make!

There is a slight risk this afternoon that we shall all overdose on euphoria at the end of this marathon. I would just like to make three points about the Declaration that we are adopting.

First, the phrase "the international community" is one which we tend to abuse. We love to say that the international community expects this or that, when we actually mean that our particular delegation expects this or that.

But this is one of those occasions when I think it is fair to say that the International Labour Conference is doing what the international community in its widest sense expects of it. There is an expectation; there is a desire that the designated and appropriate international multilateral organization, the ILO, will work effectively, more vigorously, more constructively, more proactively, to promote labour standards. It is one of the important questions of the day in the area of the ILO's operations, and had we failed to give the ILO the mandate that we are giving it, and to commission the process of further constructive work in this area, then we would have failed the institution as a whole. We would have failed public opinion throughout the world, that has expected that of us. We have avoided that failure.

Second, my delegation has listened carefully throughout this process to the justifiable concerns and anxieties expressed by many countries that a Declaration might be used for protectionist purposes.

Anyone who reads this Declaration can see from the face of its text that that is not its object. There is, in fact, no need to do so. If one wishes to make an argument, one does not have to rely on this Declaration in order to do so.

It will certainly not be the intention of the United Kingdom to use this process for any alternative agenda, and I frankly do not believe that that is the intention of the other Members of the ILO who have worked so hard to achieve this result.

Third, it is particularly important now that we should not regard this work as completed. We have completed the work on the Declaration, but what is important now is the way that it is implemented, the way that it is followed up.

We have given the Office some clear guidelines as to what we expect of it, but there is a great deal of work that lies ahead to ensure that this exercise is conducted effectively and in the correct spirit and, above all, that it produces the beneficial results that we all intend. That, again, will be the intention of my delegation, and of my Government.

What we are doing today is a relatively modest step. It is a sober step. It is a step that I hope will be agreed by all, but it is nevertheless an important beginning.

It is, above all, not a step which threatens anyone or any country's interests. It is a Declaration that clearly is supported by the overwhelming majority of the Members of this Organization. Indeed I cannot, for the life of me, see any reason why it should not be adopted by consensus, registering universal support, and I sincerely hope that that will now turn out to be the case.

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- The discussion of the report of the Committee on the Declaration on principles has been particularly rich and has shed a very interesting light on the subject. I would like to say that this discussion is all to the honour of our Organization.

The statements of the Chairperson of the Committee and of the Vice-Chairpersons provide useful clarification of points whose wording posed some difficulty.

It is hardly surprising that such a vital text should not be easy to agree on in such a way as to take account of the interests at stake.

This Declaration is a victory for the ILO, and thus a victory for all its Members without exception. It confirms our specific role in the United Nations system. It does not aim to punish, but rather to promote our fundamental values.

The Chairperson of the Committee referred to the promotional nature of paragraph 3, which encourages other organizations to support the efforts of our Members. I should like to add that this paragraph is addressed in the first place to the International Labour Organization, and the ILO is you. It can do nothing without you.

The second point also mentioned by the Chairperson, concerns paragraph 5. Regrets have been expressed that the wording used, although it is based on that of the final Declaration of Singapore, is too restrictive.

However, reading the text of the Declaration in the light of report VII, it seems clear to me that the Declaration cannot be used for purposes that are incompatible with the rules, discipline and obligations to which the Members of the ILO may have subscribed at the multilateral level.

The Conference takes note, obviously, of everything that has been said during this discussion, and particularly the reservations, objections and comments made by the various speakers.

No speaker asked for a vote. I therefore consider, if there are no objections, that the text of the Declaration ... I give the floor to Mr Elamawy, Minister of Manpower and Emigration, Egypt, on a point of order.

Original Arabic: Mr. ELAMAWY (Government delegate, Egypt) -- Thank you very much, Mr. President, for the various explanations you have offered with regard to the debate. However, our concerns remain. This Declaration continues to cause concern to a good many countries, and for this reason, in the name of my country, I propose that this matter be put to the vote.

Original Arabic: Mr. HATEM (Government delegate, Syrian Arab Republic) -- In a number of interventions recently, we have repeatedly said that we will support a Declaration when it is in conformity with the principles and values of the Constitution and the Declaration of Philadelphia. We have said time and again that we want a Declaration that will serve the interests of the working classes, because this is the segment of the population which is the most productive. We have said time and again that we will support a Declaration that takes into consideration the developmental and socio-economic conditions of individual countries. We have said this as an Asian country and as an Arab country but when the Declaration was finally submitted we found that our demands had not been taken into consideration. This is a matter of some regret.

As far as the Constitution and Declaration of Philadelphia are concerned, the new Declaration adds nothing new. Therefore, the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic would like to second the proposal put to you by the delegate of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Mr. BRETT (Workers' delegate, United Kingdom) -- It is very sad that a vote has been called for, and particularly that the call has come from my good friend and the distinguished trade unionist, now distinguished minister, Mr. Elamawy; but, if there is to be a vote, on behalf of the Workers' group I request a record vote.

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- Under article 19, paragraph 6, of the Standing Orders, a record vote shall be taken if the request is made by the Chairperson of a group. That is the case because Mr. Brett is the chairperson of the Workers' group. Therefore, we will now proceed to a record vote. However, I propose that, before we do so, we adopt the Committee's report. You have before you the report of the Committee, paragraphs 1 to 383. If there are no objections, I shall take it that the report is adopted.

(The report is adopted -- paragraphs 1 to 383.)

Record vote on the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- We shall now proceed to the record vote on the proposed ILO Declaration.

(A record vote is taken.)

(The detailed results of the vote will be found at the end of the record of this sitting.)

The result of the vote is as follows: 273 votes in favour, none against, with 43 abstentions.

Since the quorum is 264 and the required majority 137, the Declaration and its follow-up have been approved.

(The Declaration and its follow-up are adopted.)

I would like to say on this historical occasion that I would like to thank in particular the Chairperson of the Committee. I think that he will have to wait until he retires before he gets as many compliments as he got today. But the Officers too, Ed Potter, Bill Brett, the secretariat, the members of the Committee, all of them have really worked hard for the International Labour Organization. I would like also to thank all those who have done so much over the past year to bring about this result, and in particular our Director-General who for months has spared no effort day and night so that we could adopt this Declaration, which is a decisive point in the history of our Organization. To all of you, thank you.

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