1211 GENEVA 19


Resolution adopted without a vote* by the 98th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Cairo, 15 September 1997)

The 98th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Considering that the globalising world will bring benefits only if it arises from collective thought and joint action as well as an exchange of ideas and opinions reflecting the whole spectrum of the interests and levels of socio-economic development of all peoples,

Underscoring the growing move towards economic globalisation, primarily characterised by the liberalisation of international trade, increased flows of foreign direct investment, globalisation of money markets, as well as the confirmation of the role of international financial institutions in States' financial, monetary and trade policies,


Considering that this globalisation comes in a world economic context characterised by rising unemployment in most industrialised countries, massive unemployment in many former planned economies, as well as a deterioration of workers' living conditions in a number of countries, particularly developing ones,

Deeming that the present globalisation process may promote production and employment worldwide and that increased international trade and investment flows may lead to expanded markets and a better distribution of world economic resources, thus serving the interests of all States in varying degrees,

Mindful of the challenges posed by economic globalisation that weighs heavily on job markets in the industrialised countries, which fear losing jobs to developing countries with growing export sectors,

Emphasising in particular the potential negative effects of globalisation on employment in the developing countries and those in transition, which are obliged to adapt to the new world economic context characterised by intense regional and international competition at a time when most of these countries are suffering from problems posed by internal and external financial deficits, debt servicing, unemployment aggravated by population growth and the spread of poverty, in addition to the rising social costs often tied to economic globalisation and the switch to a market economy,

Aware that tackling only the economic aspects of problems stemming from the structural reforms implemented by the developing countries gives rise to certain social and political complications,

Recognising the need to alleviate problems faced by the workers of countries in situations of war or embargo,

Underscoring the principles and criteria established within the framework of the International Labour Organization and other UN specialised agencies and bodies concerning respect for fundamental labour rights,

Migrant workers

Aware that economic requirements, civil unrest, natural disasters and various forms of persecution have often forced workers to seek employment wherever they can best ensure their own survival and that of their families,

Also aware that as firms seek to survive and prosper in global markets and as technology changes the ways in which goods and services are produced, there is an increasing likelihood that firms will change traditional employment practices and restructure the nature of the employer-employee relationship,

Noting with concern that there are some 42 million migrant workers, more than at any other period in history,

Concerned about the precarious legal situation of workers in some countries and about unscrupulous labour practices used against migrant workers,

Also concerned that many migrant workers are subject to maltreatment and human rights abuses in some countries and that the most vulnerable workers, those with low skills and those sought for work in low-paying sectors are among the most susceptible to abuse,

Welcoming the efforts by a network of grassroots groups, a number of non-governmental organisations and many farm labourer organisations to improve the conditions faced by migrant workers,

Emphasising that sending countries have an obligation to protect and promote the interests of their citizens who are seeking work or already working in other countries, to give them appropriate training and education and to apprise them of their rights and of the obligations of the receiving countries,

Recalling the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the Members of Their Families, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 45/158 of 18 December 1990, the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action adopted on 25 June 1993 by the World Conference on Human Rights, which call on all States to guarantee the safeguarding of the human rights of all migrant workers, as well as the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Summit for Social Development in March 1995,

Child labour

Aware that the issue of exploitative forms of child labour has become a priority for many governments,

Recognising that exploitative child labour is closely linked to poverty and that countries with the highest illiteracy rates, lowest school enrolment rates and serious nutritional deficiencies are in general those that have the highest proportion of children working in exploitative situations,

Also recognising that child labour is both a human rights and a development issue,

Acknowledging that child labour requires a response from a broad alliance of national and international organisations, both public and private,

Taking into consideration the efforts made by the international community and national governments to tackle the child labour problem through the Plans of Action adopted by the World Summit for Children in 1990 and the Conference on Education for All held in Jomtien in 1991, as well as through the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Summit for Social Development in 1995,

Recalling that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989 and ratified by 191 States, recognises the child's right to be protected from “economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development” (article 32),

The 98th Inter-Parliamentary Conference:

1. Recommends that, in the global economy, a strict balance be observed between the interests of the major economic powers and the rights of other States, thus ensuring equity for all and guaranteeing stability;

2. Reaffirms the goal of providing opportunities for fairly remunerated and freely chosen work for all those seeking it;

3. Urges that, in setting labour standards, account be taken of the economic and social situation of developing countries, to enable them to participate actively in international trade and enjoy free access to markets;

4. Also urges that the same rules of international law be observed by and applied to all countries without distinction;

5. Strongly recommends that multilateral aid and financing agencies adopt effective approaches and devise mechanisms for assisting developing countries through special programmes aimed at their recovery and genuine development, thus enabling them to improve their basic infrastructure and agricultural and industrial production both quantitatively and qualitatively;

6. Calls on the developed countries and international organisations to support local capacity-building in developing countries in order to improve the quality of their human resources and increase employment opportunities;

7. Urges the developed countries to encourage their private sectors to invest capital in the developing countries in order to create more employment opportunities, and calls on the governments of developing countries to pursue policies conducive to foreign direct investment;

8. Recommends that measures be taken at the international level to reinforce inter-State economic relations and openness in the context of economic globalisation and to lessen inequalities and poverty worldwide;


9. Calls on States to develop a wide range of labour market adjustment measures designed primarily to address the dislocation effects of structural economic change, including those arising from international trade;

10. Also calls on States to undertake active measures such as job assistance, skill acquisition and mobility incentives, wage subsidies, earnings supplements and other employment incentive schemes as well as passive measures such as early retirement incentives, unemployment or social assistance and unemployment insurance;

11. Stresses that all countries must be expected and allowed to accept responsibility for their own development, and that lending institutions must avoid conditions which would erode vital services such as education and health or reduce employment, since this will allow the economic and social context of each country to be fully reflected in its development strategy, thus safeguarding the political and social sustainability of recovery programmes;

12. Recognises that the pace of trade liberalisation must be adapted to national conditions so as to allow time for industrial development and minimise social costs;

13. Urges parliaments and governments to refrain from using labour standards for purposes other than the protection of workers, and to oppose attempts to impair the comparative advantage of the developing countries resulting from lower wages;

14. Recommends giving priority to programmes encouraging small and medium businesses and to enhancing the productivity of the informal sector by improving infrastructure, increasing the availability of credit including micro-credit, minimising interest rates, expanding education and training, ensuring equitable redistribution of resources and improving advisory services and the supply of information; and stresses that such programmes must focus on the elimination of poverty and unemployment;

15. Urges parliaments and governments to eliminate any form of discrimination in employment including on grounds of sex, age, family responsibilities, civil status, social and ethnic origin, and religion, so as to guarantee equal opportunities in access to jobs and ensure full recognition for the handicapped and the exercise of their rights and guarantees so that they may enjoy real equality in terms of employment and treatment;

Migrant workers

16. Calls on States to affirm that migrant workers are entitled to the protection of their human rights, regardless of their legal status;

17. Also calls on States to undertake educational and other programmes to ensure that migrant workers are aware of their rights within the host country and to promote their integration in the host society;

18. Urges States to work in co-operation to eliminate maltreatment of migrant workers and abuses of their human rights;

19. Calls on the United Nations General Assembly to reopen negotiations to clarify the protection of all migrant workers in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families;

Child labour

20. Calls on States to recognise the right of all children, both boys and girls, to relevant basic education, to protection from any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with education, in order to respect their development and improve their adult employment opportunities, thus enhancing their own and their countries' economic future;

21. Also calls on States to reduce child labour through multi-faceted development strategies, through compulsory primary education for boys and girls, including substantial investment in such education; enhanced participation of women in economic development; generation of alternative sources or income through private sector development, and greater involvement of civil society and local government; in order to offer viable economic alternatives to poor families which depend on the contribution of child labour for their very survival;

22. Recommends that legislation banning any form of child abduction or exploitation and the use of child labour in hazardous work, and in particular protecting children against sexual exploitation, forced labour, bonded labour and other forms of slavery involving children, be adopted as rapidly as possible and effectively applied by at least the countries represented in the Inter-Parliamentary Union;

23. Calls on States to provide wider legislative protection, including national child labour laws which comply with the spirit and letter of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 7) and of relevant ILO conventions, in particular to ensure that all children are registered at birth and to provide employers and labour inspectors with evidence of every child's age.

* * *

* The Belgian delegation expressed reservations to operative paragraphs 9 and 12 of the resolution.

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