Dear Honourable Ministers:
Re: The inclusion and retention of the full and substantive role of the ILO in the UNCSW61 Agreed Conclusions
We urgently write to you in regards to recent developments unfolding at the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW61) taking place at the UN Headquarters in New York. As you are aware, participating states are currently negotiating and finalizing the Agreed Conclusions on this year’s priority theme of ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’.
However, initial draft language which outlined the substantive role of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in implementing and monitoring the UNCSW Agreed Conclusions, along with specific references to ILO Conventions and the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, has been removed. Such actions not only subvert the status and the legitimacy of the ILO, but also risks depriving women of critical workplace protections and standards.
Without active third-party oversight, the principles contained in this document becomes hallow gestures, which do little to advance much needed workplace rights protections for women around the world. Unifor, along with other international and national trade unions, believes it is imperative that the ILO act as the key international body that provides accountability to states to ensure that commitments in this important document are implemented.
This is a key opportunity to have the support of the UNCSW on the proposed ILO Convention on violence against women and men in the world of work. While women are disproportionately affected by workplace violence, the only way for the proposed convention to receive traction was to include men. The ILO is considering this Convention in its upcoming session in 2018. The principles outlined in the UNCSW Agreed Conclusions would put pressure on member countries, and the companies that operate within them, to support and uphold these principles. The daily violence that exists in some countries is horrific.
As a participating country to these negotiations, we urgently request that Canada demand that the ILO’s full and substantive role be reinstated in the document, and that references to ILO Conventions and Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work are restored. With the Agreed Conclusions set to be finalized this week, it is imperative that action is taken immediately.
We trust that you will act swiftly to ensure that this oversight is reversed. We thank you for your time and cooperation.