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ILO and Singapore moving forward to promote decent work in Southeast Asia

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(L) Mr Aubeck Kam, Permanent Secretary of the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, (R) Ms Tomoko Nishimoto, ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Singapore Ministry of Manpower have renewed their Partnership Agreement to promote decent work in Southeast Asia.

The ILO and the Singapore Ministry of Manpower have enjoyed a longstanding cooperation to foster the decent work agenda in Asia and the Pacific. Since 2011, they have developed their collaboration in the areas of occupational safety and health, tripartism and social dialogue, labour market information and labour migration.

Finalized in consultation with the workers’ and employers’ organizations of Singapore, the renewed partnership agreement runs until the end of 2020. It will enhance capacities of social partners in ILO and ASEAN member States in the field of labour and promote the Decent Work Agenda.

It will also strengthen Decent Work aspects of the ASEAN regional integration process through exchange of knowledge and South-South cooperation.

Joint activities will include the organization of Sub-Regional Workshop on the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) for ASEAN Countries and Mongolia, from 10 to 13 July 2018 in Singapore, and the 11th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML) 29-30 October 2018.

The agreement was signed by Ms Tomoko Nishimoto, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, and Mr Aubeck Kam, Permanent Secretary of the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, on Wednesday 6 June 2018 at a ceremony held during the 107th International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We are delighted that Singapore has renewed the partnership agreement with the ILO for the fourth time,” Ms Nishimoto said. “Our fruitful cooperation has benefited the region’s development, by integrating the three dimensions of sustainability – economic, social and environmental in our joint activities. While advancing social justice, in line with ILO’s mandate as it enters its second century, this renewed partnership will also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia.”

Mr Kam said: “Singapore is delighted to renew its partnership agreement with the ILO. We strongly believe that tripartism is the foundation for the promotion of decent work for all workers. Working with the ILO enables us to share our belief in tripartism with Asia-Pacific, and is our contribution to promoting decent work for all in the region.”

The Partnership Agreement between the ILO and the Singapore Ministry of Manpower was first signed in June 2011, and renewed in 2014 and 2016. Activities organized under the agreement included the organisation of the 21st World Congress on Safety and Health in Singapore in 2017, technical cooperation to improve occupational safety and health in Brunei, a workshop on resolving employment disputes for ASEAN countries, a Singapore-Norway Third Country Training Programme on the Decent Work Agenda, a training-of-trainers workshop on Risk Assessment in the Philippines, training for labour inspectors in Vietnam, study visits by Vietnamese and Cambodian delegations on the topics of industrial relations and the National Wages Council, as well as training on Labour Force Surveys for government delegates of Brunei Darussalam.

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Environment

Greenpeace Africa reacts to DRC President’s decision to suspend illegal logging concessions

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The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, ordered on Friday, October 15th, the suspension of all dubious logging concessions, including the 6 granted in September 2020. Greenpeace Africa, one of the civil society organizations that denounced these concessions, applauds the decision taken by the Head of State and encourages him to remain vigilant and ensure its effective execution by Deputy Prime Minister Ms. Eve Bazaiba.

Greenpeace Africa reiterates its call for maintaining the moratorium on new industrial logging concessions to prevent a human rights and climate catastrophe. This logging sector, characterized by bad governance, favors corruption and remains out of touch with the socio-economic needs of the Congolese people and the climate crisis we live in.

Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Head of the International Congo Basin Forest Project of Greenpeace: “The decision of H.E. President Tshisekedi against the illegal actions of former Minister Nyamugabo sends an important message to the Congolese people and their government. It is also a red light for the plans of Ms. Ève Bazaiba, current Minister of the Environment, to open a highway to deforestation by multinational logging companies through lifting the moratorium on new industrial concessions.”

The President asks to “Suspend all questionable contracts pending the outcome of an audit and report them to the government at the next cabinet meeting.” Greenpeace Africa maintains that the review of illegalities in the forest sector must be transparent, independent, and open to comments from civil society organizations.

Ms. Wabiwa adds that “Both the protection of the rights of Congolese peoples and the success of COP26 require that the moratorium on granting new forest titles be strengthened. We again call on President Tshisekedi to strengthen the 2005 presidential decree to extend the moratorium.”

Ms. Wabiwa concludes that “instead of allowing new avenues of destruction, the DRC needs a permanent forest protection plan, taking into account the management by the local and indigenous populations who live there and depend on them for their survival.”

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Tech News

Standards & Digital Transformation – Good Governance in a Digital Age

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In celebration of World Standards Day 2021, celebrated on 14 October every year, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is pleased to announce the launch of a brochure, “Standards and Digital Transformation: Good Governance in the Digital Age”.

In the spirit of this year’s World Standards Day theme “Shared Vision for a Better World”, the brochure provides insights into the key drivers of the digital transformation and its implications for sustainable development, particularly people, prosperity and planet. Noting the rapid pace of change of the digital transformation, with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as an unanticipated accelerator, the brochure highlights the role of standards in digital transformation governance. It further considers the principles necessary for guiding the collaborative development of standards in the digital technology landscape to ensure that the technologies remain human-centered and aligned to the goals of sustainability.

This year’s World Standards Day theme highlights the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) representing a shared vision for peace and prosperity, for people and planet. Every SDG is a call for action, but we can only get there if we work together, and international standards offer practical solutions we can all stand behind.

This brochure is a summary of a publication set to be released in November 2021.

Download it here.

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Human Rights

UN: Paraguay violated indigenous rights

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An indigenous community in Paraguay wait to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. WHO/PAHO

Paraguay’s failure to prevent the toxic contamination of indigenous people’s traditional lands by commercial farming violates their rights and their sense of “home”, the UN Human Rights Committee said in a landmark ruling on Wednesday. 

The Committee, which is made up of 18 independent experts from across the world, monitors countries’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  

Lands represent ‘home’ 

The decision on Paraguay (in Spanish) marked the first time it has affirmed that for indigenous people, “home” should be understood in the context of their special relationship with their territories, including their livestock, crops and way of life.  

“For indigenous peoples, their lands represent their home, culture and community. Serious environmental damages have severe impacts on indigenous people’s family life, tradition, identity and even lead to the disappearance of their community. It dramatically harms the existence of the culture of the group as a whole,” said Committee member Hélène Tigroudja. 

The decision stems from a complaint filed more than a decade ago on behalf of some 201 Ava Guarani people of the Campo Agua’e indigenous community, located in Curuguaty district in eastern Paraguay. 

The area where they live is surrounded by large commercial farms which produce genetically modified soybeans through fumigation, a process which involves the use of banned pesticides. 

Traditional life affected 

Fumigation occurred continuously for more than 10 years and affected the indigenous community’s whole way of life, including killing livestock, contaminating waterways and harming people’s health. 

The damage also had severe intangible repercussions, according to the UN committee.  The disappearance of natural resources needed for hunting, fishing and foraging resulted in the loss of traditional knowledge.  For example, ceremonial baptisms no longer take place as necessary materials no longer exist. 

“By halting such ceremonies, children are denied a rite crucial to strengthening their cultural identity,” the Committee said.  “Most alarmingly, the indigenous community structure is being eroded and disintegrated as families are forced to leave their land.” 

Toxic exposure 

The indigenous community brought the case to the Human Rights Committee after a lengthy and unsatisfactory administrative and judicial process in Paraguay’s courts. 

“More than 12 years after the victims filed their criminal complaint regarding the fumigation with toxic agrochemicals, to which they have continued to be exposed throughout this period, the investigations have not progressed in any meaningful way and the State party has not justified the delay,” the Committee said in its decision. 

Recommendations, reparations 

Members found Paraguay did not adequately monitor the fumigation and failed to prevent contamination, adding “this failure in its duty to provide protection made it possible for the large-scale, illegal fumigation to continue for many years, destroying all components of the indigenous people’s family life and home.”  

The Committee recommended that Paraguay complete the criminal and administrative proceedings against all parties responsible and make full reparation to the victims. 

The authorities are also urged to take all necessary measures, in close consultation with the indigenous community, to repair the environmental damage, and to work to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. 

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