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Sir Ninian Stephen to chair ILO mission.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Media Release Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer

22 August 2001 / FA128

Sir Ninian Stephen to Chair ILO Mission

The Australian Government welcomes today's International Labour Organisation announcement that an ILO mission will travel to Burma in September to assess Burmese Government efforts to end forced labour.  In particular, the Government is delighted that former Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen will chair the mission.

The Government abhors the use of forced labour in Burma and supports international efforts to end the practice.

The three-week mission to Burma follows an ILO resolution in June 2000, supported by Australia, condemning the use of forced labour there.  Following the resolution, Australia, as an ILO member, was required to review its relationship with Burma to ensure it was not perpetuating the practice of forced labour.  The Government has advised the ILO that the review found nothing in Australia’s relations with Burma that perpetuated forced labour.

The Government has also taken constructive steps in other areas to encourage the Burmese authorities to eliminate forced labour.  Government-funded human rights workshops conducted in Burma since 2000 have contributed to greater understanding within Burma of international human rights standards.  During the 2001 workshops, Burmese participants openly discussed sensitive issues, including forced labour.

The ILO mission, under Sir Ninian’s leadership, will make a valuable contribution to international efforts to end forced labour in Burma.

The ILO Governing Body will consider the mission’s report in November.  

Media Inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500, Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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