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The International Labour Organization and Myanmar - The enforcement of labour rights and its relation to international trade law

Becking, Ludvig (2006)
Department of Law
Abstract
The supervising organs of the International Labour Organization (ILO) have for decades criticized the Myanmar government for making use of forced labour. In 1996, during the 83rd session of the International Labour Conference, twenty-five worker delegates filed a complaint against Myanmar for violating its obligations under the Forced Labour Convention, and soon after the Governing Body of the ILO appointed a Commission of Inquiry. The Commission directed heavy critique against Myanmar for making use of forced labour, and formulated a number of recommendations for the government to implement. After a series of attempts to persuade the Myanmar government to comply with the recommendations of the Commission, a resolution calling on all ILO... (More)
The supervising organs of the International Labour Organization (ILO) have for decades criticized the Myanmar government for making use of forced labour. In 1996, during the 83rd session of the International Labour Conference, twenty-five worker delegates filed a complaint against Myanmar for violating its obligations under the Forced Labour Convention, and soon after the Governing Body of the ILO appointed a Commission of Inquiry. The Commission directed heavy critique against Myanmar for making use of forced labour, and formulated a number of recommendations for the government to implement. After a series of attempts to persuade the Myanmar government to comply with the recommendations of the Commission, a resolution calling on all ILO members to review their contacts with Myanmar so as not to aid the government in their violations of the Forced labour Convention, was adopted in the year 2000. As a result of this resolution, several governments imposed trade sanctions on Myanmar. These actions can be seen as possible violations of the international trade rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, there are certain exceptions to these rules relating to e.g. 'public morals'. The Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the WTO has never decided whether human rights arguments can be used to justify exceptions from trade obligations, but an investigation into the jurisprudence of the WTO dispute organs and the history of the exception clauses of international trade law points in this direction. If a specific trade measure is taken as a consequence of ILO authorization it could be considered acceptable under the exception clauses of the major trade agreements. However, if a trade measure taken under the ILO resolution for some reason should fail to meet the requirements of the exceptions clauses, and therefore amount to a violation of an international trade agreement, a conflict of norms would arise. Since the ILO resolution is the later and more specific norm, it should take precedence over the general WTO rules according to the general law principles of lex posterior and lex specialis. The implications of the Myanmar experience are difficult to foresee, but hopefully the future potential conflicts and synergies between international human rights law and international trade law can be solved through the display of mutual respect and understanding of the major international actors of these areas of international law. (Less)
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author
Becking, Ludvig
supervisor
organization
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
International Human Rights Law
language
English
id
1555107
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:22:57
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:22:57
@misc{1555107,
  abstract     = {The supervising organs of the International Labour Organization (ILO) have for decades criticized the Myanmar government for making use of forced labour. In 1996, during the 83rd session of the International Labour Conference, twenty-five worker delegates filed a complaint against Myanmar for violating its obligations under the Forced Labour Convention, and soon after the Governing Body of the ILO appointed a Commission of Inquiry. The Commission directed heavy critique against Myanmar for making use of forced labour, and formulated a number of recommendations for the government to implement. After a series of attempts to persuade the Myanmar government to comply with the recommendations of the Commission, a resolution calling on all ILO members to review their contacts with Myanmar so as not to aid the government in their violations of the Forced labour Convention, was adopted in the year 2000. As a result of this resolution, several governments imposed trade sanctions on Myanmar. These actions can be seen as possible violations of the international trade rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, there are certain exceptions to these rules relating to e.g. 'public morals'. The Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the WTO has never decided whether human rights arguments can be used to justify exceptions from trade obligations, but an investigation into the jurisprudence of the WTO dispute organs and the history of the exception clauses of international trade law points in this direction. If a specific trade measure is taken as a consequence of ILO authorization it could be considered acceptable under the exception clauses of the major trade agreements. However, if a trade measure taken under the ILO resolution for some reason should fail to meet the requirements of the exceptions clauses, and therefore amount to a violation of an international trade agreement, a conflict of norms would arise. Since the ILO resolution is the later and more specific norm, it should take precedence over the general WTO rules according to the general law principles of lex posterior and lex specialis. The implications of the Myanmar experience are difficult to foresee, but hopefully the future potential conflicts and synergies between international human rights law and international trade law can be solved through the display of mutual respect and understanding of the major international actors of these areas of international law.},
  author       = {Becking, Ludvig},
  keyword      = {International Human Rights Law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The International Labour Organization and Myanmar - The enforcement of labour rights and its relation to international trade law},
  year         = {2006},
}