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Q2. What policies, strategies, actions and programmes have been put in place by the Office, ILO constituents and other stakeholders to ensure that economic development and decent work, including respect for international labour standards go hand in hand?
I speak on behalf of the Government of Norway.
- I would like to share information on some measures taken by the Government of Norway to help ensure that economic development and decent work, including respect for international labour standards go hand in hand.
- As a follow-up to the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization the Norwegian government decided to intensify its efforts to promote workers’ rights on a global level, by establishing a comprehensive strategy to strengthen and coordinate Norway’s efforts in promoting workers’ rights globally – based on the ILO’s "Decent Work Agenda".
- The strategy has served as a policy-coherence instrument at national level since, and guided our initiatives vis-à-vis the ILO and other international organizations. The mandate of the national ILO committee was also revised and broadened.
- The result is improved coordination between relevant ministries in our foreign policy, development policy, trade policy, ownership policy and labour market policy - in other words - to speak with one voice in the diverse variety of international fora.
- Further, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made recommendations in a White Paper in December 2014, on how to mainstream efforts to promote and protect human rights into all aspects of our foreign policy and development cooperation.
- Following the White Paper, the Government launched a national action plan on business and human rights in October 2015, to help the business sector implement the UN Guiding Principles and set out the expectations of Norwegian companies. The Government and the business sector have a common interest in ensuring that companies are able to carry out and develop their operations abroad in accordance with recognized international norms.
- The plan proposes a range of actions, inter alia to include respect for internationally recognized human rights in public contracts. Norway is in the process of amending the Procurement Act, into stating that contracting authorities should have adequate procedures for ensuring social responsibility and decent working conditions in connection with public procurement.
- The plan also recommends safeguarding labour rights and working conditions in trade agreements and investment treaties. Norway has, through the European Free Trade Association entered into a number of trade agreements with countries all over the world. These FTAs refer to ILO instruments, and increasingly contain chapters on sustainable development and labour rights. We commend the ILO’s valuable research and analysis of the effect of labour provisions in FTAs.
- Existing treaties and the UN Guiding Principles provide a clear set of standards of obligations and responsibilities for human rights to be better protected and respected in the context of business activities. Closing the implementation gap between such standards - and the reality on the ground should be our primary focus.
Norway supports the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its work to strengthen national legal systems through the Accountability and Remedy Project. It is intended to enhance corporate accountability and access to remedy for victims of human rights abuses.
- Norway has appointed a well-functioning National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines. This is not a supervisory or control body, but provides information, advice and facilitates access to conciliation and mediation procedures.
- It is the State’s duty to promote compliance and enforce national labour laws and to ratify and implement international labour Conventions. The Norwegian Government has initiated several measures to reinforce regulation and monitoring of working conditions, in order to prevent exploitation, irregular employment and to reduce unfair competition.
- Norway has ratified the Work in Fishing-convention and the protocol to convention no. 29 on forced labour, both of which we view as especially relevant in this context with regard to ensure that work in global supply chains does not involve forced labour and trafficking.
- Finally, the
mentioned initiatives are all initiated and developed in collaboration with the social partners in Norway. I will conclude by stating that the Norwegian government recognizes social dialogue as vital for achieving real change in the world of work, and that we will continue our joint efforts to achieve effective implementation and enforcement of labour laws.
Thank you for your attention.