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NEWS - Clinton Remarks to Internati
- Subject: NEWS - Clinton Remarks to Internati
- From: Rangoonp@xxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 22:17:00
Subject: NEWS - Clinton Remarks to International Labor Organization Conference
Clinton Remarks to International Labor Organization Conference (2/2)
WASHINGTON, June 16 /U.S. Newswire/ --
Following is a transcript of President Clinton's
remarks today to the International Labor
Organization conference (2 of 2):
Yet, as important as our efforts to strengthen safety
nets and relieve debt burdens are, for citizens
throughout the world to feel that they truly have a
hand in shaping their future they must know the
dignity and respect of basic rights in the workplace.
You have taken a vital step toward lifting the lives
of working people by adopting the Declaration on
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work last
year. The document is a blueprint for the global
economy that honors our values -- the dignity of
work, an end to discrimination, an end to forced
labor, freedom of association, the right of people to
organize and bargain in a civil and peaceful way.
These are not just labor rights, they're human rights.
They are a charter for a truly modern economy. We
must make them an everyday reality all across the
We advance these rights first by standing up to
those who abuse them. Today, one member nation,
Burma, stands in defiance of the ILO's most
fundamental values and most serious findings. The
Director General has just reported to us that the
flagrant violation of human rights persists, and I
urge the ILO governing body to take definite steps.
For Burma is out of step with the standards of the
world community and the aspirations of its people.
Until people have the right to shape their destiny we
must stand by them and keep up the pressure for
We also advance core labor rights by standing with
those who seek to make them a reality in the
workplace. Many countries need extra assistance
to meet these standards . Whether it's rewriting
inadequate labor laws, or helping fight discrimination
against women and minorities in the workplace, the
ILO must be able to help.
That is why in the balanced budget I submitted to
our Congress this year I've asked for $25 million to
help create a new arm of the ILO, to work with
developing countries to put in place basic labor
standards -- protections, safe work places, the right
to organize. I ask other governments to join us. I've
also asked for $10 million from our Congress to
strengthen U.S. bilateral support for governments
seeking to raise such core labor standards.
We have asked for millions of dollars also to build
on our voluntary anti-sweat shop initiative to
encourage the many innovative programs that are
being developed to eliminate sweat shops and raise
consumer awareness of the conditions in which the
clothes they wear and the toys they buy for their
children are made.
But we must go further, to give life to our dream of
an economy that lifts all our people. To do that, we
must wipe from the Earth the most vicious forms of
abusive child labor. Every single day tens of millions
of children work in conditions that shock the
conscience. There are children chained to often
risky machines; children handling dangerous
chemicals; children forced to work when they should
be in school, preparing themselves and their
countries for a better tomorrow. Each of our nations
must take responsibility.
Last week, at the inspiration of Senator Tom Harkin,
who is here with me today, I directed all agencies of
the United States government to make absolutely
sure they are not buying any products made with
abusive child labor.
But we must also act together. Today, the time has
come to build on the growing world consensus to
ban the most abusive forms of child labor -- to join
together and to say there are some things we
cannot and will not tolerate.
We will not tolerate children being used in
pornography and prostitution. We will not tolerate
children in slavery or bondage. We will not tolerate
children being forcibly recruited to serve in armed
conflicts. We will not tolerate young children risking
their health and breaking their bodies in hazardous
and dangerous working conditions for hours
unconscionably long -- regardless of country,
regardless of circumstance. These are not some
archaic practices out of a Charles Dickens novel.
These are things that happen in too many places
I am proud of what is being done at your meeting. In
January, I said to our Congress and the American
people in the State of the Union address, that we
would work with the ILO on a new initiative to raise
labor standards and to conclude a treaty to ban
abusive child labor everywhere in the world. I am
proud to say that the United States will support your
convention. After I return home I will send it to the
U.S. Senate for ratification, and I ask all other
countries to ratify it, as well. (Applause.)
We thank you for achieving a true breakthrough for
the children of the world. We thank the nations here
represented who have made genuine progress in
dealing with this issue in their own nations. You
have written an important new chapter in our effort
to honor our values and protect our children.
Passing this convention alone, however, will not
solve the problem. We must also work aggressively
to enforce it. And we must address root causes, the
tangled pathology of poverty and hopelessness that
leads to abusive child labor. Where that still exists it
is simply not enough to close the factories where
the worst child labor practices occur. We must also
ensure that children then have access to schools
and their parents have jobs. Otherwise, we may find
children in even more abusive circumstances.
That is why the work of the International Program
for the Elimination of Child Labor is so important.
With the support of the United States, it is working
in places around the world to get children out of the
business of making fireworks, to help children move
from their jobs as domestic servants, to take
children from factories to schools.
Let me cite just one example of the success being
achieved, the work being done to eliminate child
labor from the soccer ball industry in Pakistan. Two
years ago, thousands of children under the age of
14 worked for 50 companies stitching soccer balls
full-time. The industry, the ILO and UNICEF joined
together to remove children from the production of
soccer balls and give them a chance to go to
school, and to monitor the results.
Today, the work has been taken up by women in 80
poor villages in Pakistan, giving them new
employment and their families new stabilities.
Meanwhile, the children have started to go to
school, so that when they come of age, they will be
able to do better jobs raising the standard of living
of their families, their villages and their nation. I
thank all who were involved in this endeavor and
ask others to follow their lead.
I am pleased that our administration has increased
our support for IPEC by tenfold. I ask you to think
what could be achieved by a full and focused
international effort to eliminate the worst forms of
child labor. Think of the children who would go to
school, whose lives would open up, whose very
health would flower, freed of the crushing burden of
dangerous and demeaning work, given back those
irreplaceable hours of childhood for learning and
playing and living.
By giving life to core labor standards, by acting
effectively to lift the burden of debt, by putting a
more human face on the world trading system and
the global economy, by ending the worst forms of
child labor, we will be giving our children the 21st
century they deserve.
These are hopeful times. Previous generations
sought to redeem the rights of labor in a time of
world war and organized tyranny. We have a
chance to build a world more prosperous, more
united, more humane than ever before. In so doing,
we can fulfill the dreams of the ILO's founders, and
redeem the struggles of those who fought and
organized, who sacrificed and, yes, died -- for
freedom, equality, and justice in the workplace.
It is our great good fortune that in our time we have
been given the golden opportunity to make the 21st
century a period of abundance and achievement for
all. Because we can do that, we must. It is a gift to
our children worthy of the millennium.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 11:50 A.M. (L)