Wed, 05 Apr 2000

ILO sanctions against Myanmar?

In action unprecedented in the International Labor Organization's (ILO) 80-year history, the United Nations- sponsored group is to put a motion to its June conference to "sanction" Burma (Myanmar) for its continued use of its citizens as forced or compulsory labor.

The ILO, which comprises 174 member states, is to vote on whether to invoke, for the first time, Article 33 of its constitution and "take such action as it may deem wise and expedient to secure compliance" by Burma for its grave and persistent violations of international labor standards.

As a reputable international body, it is improbable that the ILO would go to such dramatic lengths and suggest the invoking of a yet-to-be-used rule against Burma if it did not possess hard, clear evidence.

The junta has barred the ILO's special rapporteur from its country as if it fears allegations could be proven. If the junta has nothing to hide the special rapporteur should be welcome.

If the ILO conference in June passes this resolution it will add further to Burma's woes.

The decision will mean that the ILO will actively enlist the support of all 174 member states, the United Nations, national governments and international organizations worldwide to review their dealings with Burma to ensure that by their involvement they are in no way contributing to the perpetuation of this alleged human rights abuse.

Between now and June, the junta should welcome the ILO and its rapporteur to its country to refute the allegations and prove to the world that Burma does not use forced labor.

If it doesn't, the 174 member states will know which way to vote come June.

-- The Bangkok Post