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Human Rights Council discusses contemporary forms of slavery and a democratic and equitable international order

MIDDAY

GENEVE (10 September 2018) - The Human Rights Council this morning held a clustered interactive dialogue with Urmila Bhoola, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, and Livingstone Sewanyana, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.  

Presenting her reports, Ms. Bhoola reminded that slavery continued to be a reality for millions of men, women and children all over the world.  However, it was often invisible and thus underestimated.  In her thematic study on the impact of slavery and servitude on marginalized migrant women workers, Ms. Bhoola argued that the global society often disregarded the value of care and domestic work carried out by women, which resulted in exploitation and subjection to slavery-like conditions.  The increase in global migration for domestic work was directly related to increasing globalization, macro-economic policies, climate change and demographic changes.  The Special Rapporteur, therefore, urged States to increase their efforts in addressing and preventing domestic servitude.  She spoke on her country visit to Paraguay.

Paraguay spoke as a concerned country.  

In his first report, Mr. Sewanyana addressed a number of thematic priorities that had an impact on a democratic and equitable international order, such as the issue of forms and practices of democracy.  Equally important was looking at how the right to participate in public affairs could be better realized in multilateral fora, paying due attention to gender equality and civil society space.  The Independent Expert stressed that corruption had an adverse effect on a democratic and equitable international order.  The report also focused on global economic challenges, as well as on the nexus between youth, fragility, violence and opportunity.  Youth were underrepresented in national and international governing bodies, and their space in multilateral settings was particularly limited.  He referred to his predecessor’s visits to Venezuela and Ecuador.  

Venezuela and Ecuador spoke as concerned countries.  

In the ensuing discussion on contemporary forms of slavery, speakers said that it was the invisibility and informality of domestic work and its lack of recognition as employment under labour law that exacerbated the precariousness of the situation of women migrant workers and placed them at heightened risk of abuse and domestic servitude.  They reminded that annual revenues from forced labour alone were estimated to exceed $150 billion and almost one fourth could be accounted to the domestic work sector, adding that the financial sector was well placed to address that tragic situation.  Some highlighted the importance of training of labour inspectors and border officers in preventing contemporary forms of slavery, as well as the role of religious organizations.
 
On a democratic and equitable international order, delegations expressed support for the mandate of the Independent Expert.  Some speakers noted that the Independent Expert should focus on correcting current distortions, such as extraterritorial law enforcement by some countries at the expense of other countries.  They also underlined the importance of reinforcing democracy and governance, and countering corruption.  One speaker stated that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had attempted to influence the work of the former Independent Expert on a democratic and equitable international order and expressed hope that the new Independent Expert would resist such influence.  Speakers noted that land title rights and the extraction of natural resources played a role in continued colonialism and exploitation.

Speaking in the clustered interactive dialogue were Togo on behalf of the African Group, European Union, Australia also on behalf of United Kingdom, Egypt, Liechtenstein, Order of Malta, Brazil, Pakistan, France, South Africa, United Nations Children’s Fund, India, Tunisia, UN Women, Russian Federation, Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago, Italy, Fiji, China, Cuba, Ukraine, Kenya, Bolivia, Iraq, Belgium, Nepal, Togo, United Kingdom, Iceland, Lebanon, Qatar, Portugal, Organization of American States, Nigeria, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Jordan, Niger, and Venezuela.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Anti-Slavery International, Indian Council of South America (CISA), Plan International, Inc (in a joint statement with Defence for Children International and International Federation Terre des Hommes), Action Canada for Population and Development, Minority Rights Group International, Human Rights Now, International Service for Human Rights, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Canners International Permanent Committee, European Union of Public Relations, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, International-Lawyers.Org and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc.


The Council will next start a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the rights of older persons, and with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.  


Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences (A/HRC/39/52).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences – mission to Paraguay (A/HRC/39/52/Add.1).

The Council has before it the Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order (A/HRC/39/47). 

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order – mission to Venezuela and Ecuador (A/HRC/39/47/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order – comments by Venezuela (A/HRC/39/47/Add.2).

Presentation of Reports on Contemporary Forms of Slavery and on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order

URMILA BHOOLA, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, including its Causes and Consequences, began by stating that slavery continued to be a reality for millions of men, women and children all over the world.  However, it was often invisible and thus underestimated.  Her report focused on the impact of slavery and servitude on marginalized migrant women workers in the global domestic economy so as to give a voice to the voiceless.  A sustainable domestic work economy should, she continued, ensure access to justice, effective enforcement and remedies in the case of exploitation and abuse, while also addressing issues of prejudice against migrants through advocacy.  Ms. Bhoola encouraged all States to implement her recommendations from the report, which provided guidelines on how to prevent and address the domestic servitude of women migrants.  In her thematic study on the impact of slavery and servitude on marginalized migrant women workers, Ms. Bhoola stated that the global society often disregarded the value of care and domestic work carried out by women, which resulted in exploitation and subjection to slavery-like conditions.  The increase in global migration for domestic work was directly related to increasing globalization, macro-economic policies, climate change and demographic changes.  She urged States to increase their efforts in addressing and preventing domestic servitude, as it constituted an abysmal and degrading human rights abuse; poverty often forced those workers to accept living and working conditions that violated their fundamental human rights as well as exposure to multiple types of abuse.  In addressing domestic work from a human rights perspective, domestic servitude could be replaced with decent work and social justice and a workplace free of violence and harassment.  

Turning to her conclusions and recommendations following a visit to Paraguay, Ms. Bhoola noted a number of positive developments in the Government’s prevention of and response to contemporary forms of slavery.  However, she found that too many children continued to be involved in child labour and in hazardous work.  In a 2015 survey, it was found that 75 per cent of children between 5 and 17 years were engaged in one or more of the worst forms of child labour.  There were approximately 47,000 children subjected to criadazgo, a practice in which a child (typically a girl) was sent to live with another family with the objective of securing access to food and education through domestic work, which was not normally remunerated.  This practice was considered one of the worst forms of child labour under ILO convention No. 182.  Finally, the indigenous people in the Chaco region were particularly vulnerable to exploitation and to forced and bonded labour.  She called on the Government to ensure decent work for all and to protect the indigenous peoples.

LIVINGSTONE SEWANYANA, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, presenting his first report to the Council, outlined his vision in giving full effect to the mandate with which he had been entrusted.  He said other reports included the findings of his predecessor, Mr. Alfred de Zayas, on his visits to Venezuela in December 2017 and Ecuador in December 2017 at the invitation of their respective Governments.  

Mr. Sewanyana said his first report was inspired by the existing human rights framework that incorporated purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.  A number of thematic priorities were addressed, as they all had an impact on a democratic and equitable international order.  The issue of forms and practices of democracy was one of them and it required seeking views on electoral systems and procedures and their impact on human rights.  Equally important was to look at how the right to participate in public affairs could be better realized in multilateral fora, paying due attention to gender equality and civil society space.  Corruption had an adverse effect on an equitable international order so it was important to engage stakeholders on good practices that demonstrated effective private-public partnerships.  Under the principle of open government, countries pledged to protect civil society and be more accountable to their citizens.

Emerging global governance forums, including the Group of 7, the Group of 20, the Group of 77, the World Economic Forum, and the World Social Forum all played a role in developing the framework of the international order.  Their constitutions and practices had to be analysed in order to develop recommendations on strengthening contributions of global governance fora to democratic governance and human rights impact.  The report also focused on global economic challenges as well as on the nexus between youth, fragility, violence and opportunity.  Youth were underrepresented in national and international governing bodies, and their space in multilateral settings was particularly limited.  Mr. Sewanyana said that in the execution of his mandate, he would adopt several working methods: undertaking thematic studies, convening meetings and consultations, undertaking country visits, participating in international fora, and cooperating with special procedures.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Venezuela, speaking as a concerned country, expressed thanks for the former Special Rapporteur’s courage to go to Venezuela despite attacks undermining his work, including personal attacks.  The State said the report, however, stood in contrast from previous reports from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights but that it did attempt to adopt an impartial approach.  In the particular case of Venezuela, the Rapporteur was given unfettered access to the government, prisoners, families of prisoners and victims of political violence, with the only obstacles being those who had tried to prevent the visit from taking place.  There was an economic crisis in Venezuela, not a human rights crisis.  Despite the financial embargo, Venezuela continued to provide free education and solutions for people facing extreme poverty.  However, coercive measures were being used to force a change in the regime, particularly unilateral coercive measures adopted by United States and the European Union.  Venezuela called upon the international criminal court of justice to take action against those unilateral measures.

Ecuador, speaking as a concerned country, said that the visit of the previous Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order had focused on the socio-economic model of Ecuador and had been an opportunity to show the achievement and progress made in Ecuador and to take note of recommendations.  Ecuador was cooperating with all mechanisms of the United Nations and the Council, including treaty bodies, and in line with that the Government had provided to Mr. de Zayas all the information needed to assess the situation.  Particular emphasis was put on the development plan, which had an inter-sectoral approach, taking into account the protection of the rights of priority groups, and which was aiming to establish a bedrock for social protection.  Ecuador was fully engaged in the fight against corruption.  

Paraguay, speaking as a concerned country, was pleased with the conclusions of the visit of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences.  Paraguay had recognized from the outset the challenges in ratifying the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and of Protocol 30 of the International Labour Office.  The need to bridge the gaps in providing protections to all groups, including indigenous persons, vulnerable populations and domestic workers, outlined by the Rapporteur, was reaffirmed.  The Special Rapporteur had underlined the priority given to the fight against child labour and contemporary forms of slavery, with the creation of a new Ministry of Labour, Work and Social Security.  This demonstrated that the Government was ready to address all problems.  Paraguay had a national policy on adolescents 2014-2024.  The Ministry of Social Development had tried to curb the number of children living on the streets by offering social protection to vulnerable families.  The programme had grown gradually over the years and it now included over 100,000 families across the country.  Paraguay was also seeking to combat domestic servitude.

Interactive Debate

Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, voiced concern about slavery that still existed in its traditional forms and requested that the Special Rapporteur focus on the problems faced by migrants in countries of destination.  It asked that prevention and assistance to victims be properly reflected in international instruments.  On a democratic international order, the African Group guaranteed support for the mandate of the Independent Expert.  European Union stated that female domestic workers were vulnerable to slavery, and it stressed that policies needed to balance the legitimate concerns of employers and workers.   It welcomed the upcoming discussion on the gender dimension of contemporary forms of slavery.  Australia, speaking also on behalf of the United Kingdom, reminded that there were some 40 million victims of slavery-like practices and noted that the two countries were committed to eradicating those practices, including child labour.  The two countries chaired the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime.  

Egypt expressed extreme concern about the content of the report vis-à-vis migrants and illegal migration, and called on the Special Rapporteur to pursue interaction and dialogue with relevant countries to strengthen legal frameworks.  On an equitable international order, Egypt noted proposals in the report and called for cooperation with United Nations mechanisms and civil society in that regard.  Liechtenstein reminded that annual revenues from forced labour alone were estimated to exceed $150 billion and almost one fourth could be accounted to the domestic work sector.  Liechtenstein was establishing a multi-stakeholder Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking to respond to that situation.  Order of Malta proposed to the Special Rapporteur to mention the guide on article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights as a useful inspiration for Governments, to highlight the importance of training of labour inspectors and border officers, and not to forget the role of religious organizations.

Brazil said that they were one of the 25 countries that had ratified the Domestic Workers’ Convention, a step in implementing domestic legislation to prevent domestic servitude.  Brazil also supported the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in an effort to overcome the invisibility of domestic workers and to promote the access of all migrants to social services.  Pakistan reminded the Council that they were signatory to all International Labour Organization Conventions and they had an oversight mechanism for businesses to ensure that their practices were in line with domestic and human rights obligations.  Pakistan believed that the international financial and trading system should be geared towards providing equal opportunities to all through free trade, access to technology, and an open market approach.  France said that in adopting a national plan against trafficking in human beings, this would consolidate measures already in place, particularly training professionals and partners critical to combatting trafficking in humans.  They asked what would be an essential measure to protect such agencies while protecting migrants?

South Africa underlined that the key provisions of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action should not be dismissed, as Africans and people of African descent were victims of those acts and continued to be victims of their consequences.  South Africa asked the Independent Expert about his reflections on the need for international trade and financial institutions to take into account the voices of developing States in order to contribute positively to the achievement of a democratic and equitable international order.  United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that the Special Rapporteur’s report on the analysis of domestic work as a feminized sector represented by over 42 million women was both insightful and alarming, and that the gravity of violations that women and girls suffered in the private sphere could not be overstated.  UNICEF drew special attention to the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations to guarantee access to healthcare services to migrant women and girls as well as referring gender responsive social services.  India said it accorded top priority to ensuring a safe, orderly, legal and human migration process.  The Indian Government had taken several initiatives to strengthen, protect and support migrant workers, particularly vulnerable groups.  They felt that remedies to address causes and consequences, such as poverty and underdevelopment, and global measures to strengthen international cooperation could be further explored.  

Tunisia noted that cooperation was needed to counter domestic slavery, tackle trafficking in human beings, and broaden opportunities to have access to justice.  On a democratic and equitable international order, Tunisia stressed the importance of reinforcing democracy, governance and countering corruption.  UN Women said that it was the invisibility and informality of domestic work and its lack of recognition as employment under labour law that exacerbated the precariousness of women migrant workers and placed them at heightened risk of abuse and domestic servitude.  Russian Federation advocated for equal treatment of all victims of slavery, but it could not agree that migrants were a particular risk group when it came to modern forms of slavery.  On a democratic and equitable international order, it noted that the Independent Expert should focus on correcting current distortions, such as extraterritorial law enforcement by some countries at the expense of other countries.  

Philippines commended the Special Rapporteur for her insights and practical, actionable recommendations.  It agreed that poverty was among the key drivers of migration that could expose migrants, in particular women and girls, to abuse, exploitation, trafficking, limitations of personal freedom, no payment, and violation of human dignity.  Trinidad and Tobago stated that it was committed to the Decent Work Agenda and it condemned the continued existence of slavery in all its forms.  It had developed and implemented campaigns aimed at sensitization of the public on the rights of domestic workers.  Italy reminded that its latest legal reforms sought to fight illegal labour in agriculture and set high fines for those who had violated the country’s Criminal Code.  It asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on how countries could support ethical recruitment practices.

Fiji said that in line with taking adequate measures to protect individuals from slavery, it had acceded to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Crime in 2017.  Fiji aspired to implement the Convention in all respects and address all forms of human trafficking, including those intricately bound to slavery, servitude and forced labour.  China said that last September, it had contributed to a roundtable discussion on the domestic migrant issue, and it was a supporter of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  China actively prohibited all forms of slavery and ensured the equality and enhanced rights of women and children migrants.  Cuba stated their belief that macro-economic policies were directly responsible for the issues of migration caused by poverty.  After thanking the former Independent Expert on his reports on Venezuela and Ecuador, Cuba reiterated its solidarity with Venezuela and said it did not wish to see human rights used as a tool for harassment.  Ukraine said their national legislation ensured safeguards for migrant workers and people legally residing in Ukraine so they could enjoy the same rights as its citizens.  Contemporary forms of slavery were of great concern to Ukraine as alarming reports had been issued concerning the human exploitation by Russians in occupied areas of the country.  The State hoped those issues would appear in the Special Rapporteur’s report.

Comments by the Special Rapporteur and the Independent Expert

URMILA BHOOLA, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, thanked Paraguay for having addressed in its legislation payment in kind as a key cause of vulnerability.  Turning to the factors that gave rise to increased vulnerabilities, and balancing the interests of both employers and workers, she said that there were particular constraints when employers were individuals and were not brought under the ambit of international law.  Domestic workers should not be subjected to domestic servitude.  The Special Rapporteur thanked Australia and the United Kingdom for their efforts within the Bali Process, and for their comments regarding corporate responsibility in supply chains.  The Special Rapporteur underlined the importance of punishment for the perpetrators of domestic servitude, and of coordination and formulation of a strategic plan to combat trafficking in persons and money laundering which contributed to the survival of slavery.  She welcomed the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders that would be involved in that initiative, and she looked forward to the global financial sector’s commitment to address money laundering as a facilitator of trafficking in persons.  She endorsed the comments from delegations that training of labour inspectors, police and border officials was a key element of prevention of modern slavery.  The Special Rapporteur further underlined the importance of the International Labour Organization’s Convention No. 189 on domestic work.  A vibrant civil society was essential to fight the phenomenon of modern slavery, as well as the consolidation of a relevant legal arsenal.  Regulating private employment agencies was crucial to ensure that they complied with law; it was critical that they be held accountable in all respects.  Finally, Ms. Bhoola stressed the gender and irregular migration dimension of exploitation in the domestic work sector.  The question of ethical recruitment was a complex one, but the bottom line was that it concerned recruitment in line with the law.

LIVINGSTONE SEWANYANA, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, took note of the findings of his predecessor, Alfred de Zayas, and of all other interested parties.  He welcomed the statements of support from various Governments and looked forward to discussions with them in order to implement his mandate.  He reiterated that an equitable and democratic world order was only possible by filling in current gaps.  In his work, he would like to stress the need to examine the current practices against the theoretical framework.  The Independent Expert further stressed the importance of participation, inclusion and transparency in the conduct of world affairs, as well as North-South cooperation.  Answering some of the delegations’ questions and comments, he welcomed the opportunity to dialogue and cooperate with them, and he emphasized that his mandate gave an opportunity to examine growing inequalities within and among States.    

Interactive Dialogue

Kenya said that slavery and servitude of marginalized migrant women workers in the global domestic economy remained a serious, grave and recurring concern, especially as those gave rise to human rights abuses such as exploitation, violence, harassment, sexual abuse, and inhumane and degrading treatment.  Both sending and receiving States had an obligation to adopt a victim-centred approach to stop contemporary forms of slavery.  Bolivia agreed that migrants made a positive contribution to inclusive economic growth and sustainable development, and appealed to States to cooperate on international levels to safeguard secure, orderly and regulated migration that was respectful of human rights.  Bolivia urged the Independent Expert to add citizen participation and consider the important role of social movements in achieving a democratic and equitable international order.  Iraq took note of the many forms of contemporary slavery, and in particular about their horrendous forms perpetuated by Daesh and other terrorist organizations, which often contributed to financing terrorism.  Iraq welcomed the consultations with the Independent Expert and reiterated its belief in democracy and peaceful transition of the Government.  

Belgium attached great value to the concept of decent work and agreed that the rights of domestic migrant workers must be better protected.  The introduction of the so-called “service vouchers” for domestic work in 2004 contributed to breaking the unilateral, asymmetric relationship between the worker and the household, which lent itself too easily to abuse and exploitation.  Ensuring the accountability of employment and protecting human rights of women migrants were indispensable, stressed Nepal, which underlined that those were the preconditions for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Nepal had adopted a system of Government which promoted and protected human rights in a transparent and inclusive manner, and remained committed to a democratic and equitable international order.  Togo said that macro-economic policies must be considered when tackling the question of inequalities and, welcoming the Special Rapporteur’s decision to visit the country, looked forward to her recommendations which would help move the country forward.

United Kingdom stated that through advocacy and programmes, they were working to tackle the root causes of slavery and support victims in a manner that was gender-sensitive.  The United Kingdom asked how Member States should prioritise the recommended actions provided by the Special Rapporteur.  Iceland shared the Special Rapporteur’s views that policies were needed to tackle discrimination faced by migrant workers, while noting that they were not immune to difficulties encountered by migrants, particularly migrant women.  The Government of Iceland was working to eliminate modern slavery through better cooperation mechanisms and stronger supervision measures of the Icelandic Labour Market in cooperation with labour unions.  Lebanon underlined efforts in the country to improve the working conditions of migrant workers in line with the International Labour Organization’s Conventions, including the adoption of laws and bolstering of structures to improve services provided to those workers.  Civil society was also active in defending the rights of women domestic workers in Lebanon.  

Qatar noted the unlawful resort to unilateral measures and blockades by some States, which was contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international law, such as those imposed against Qatar by neighbouring States.  They asked the Independent Expert about her vision on the impact of the use of unilateral coercive measures in international relations that undermined the “democratic and equitable international order” and how best to limit or resist their use.  Portugal stated that their Authority for Working Conditions was directly involved in the implementation of the National Plan against Trafficking and that labour inspectors reported situations of possible exploitation to the police.  Portugal wished to know how the cooperation between national and international agencies could prevent the labour exploitation of vulnerable groups such as migrants.

Organization of American States observed the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela, especially the massive and accelerated migration from Venezuela to other countries.  As of June 2018, some 2.3 million Venezuelans had left their country.  Venezuela should restore the constitutional order, ensure human rights for all citizens, and step up measures to reduce poverty.  Nigeria was committed to holding free, fair and independent elections and had adopted a new law to promote the participation of youth in elections and politics.  It was committed to continuing corruption and remaining a leader in the African continent.  States had a responsibility to combat domestic servitude and protect domestic workers from all actions that could lead to slavery.  Organization of Islamic Cooperation agreed that to prevent human rights violations, including servitude in the domestic sector, policies were needed that tackled discrimination while also helping to balance the legitimate concerns of both employers and workers.  A sustainable domestic work economy should ensure access to justice, effective enforcement and remedies in case of exploitation and abuse.

Jordan said it had adopted numerous pieces of legislation and had signed bilateral agreements with a number of countries of origin of migrant workers in order to protect their rights and address their complaints about labour rights violations.  Niger said it faced many forms of contemporary slavery, including child marriages and child labour, and had undertaken a number of legal and institutional measures to tackle the problems, such as strengthening its legal and institutional framework through the ratification of several international legal instruments, including on the prohibition of torture and trafficking.  Venezuela was aware of the great challenges in the promotion of democracy and an equitable international order, which remained a priority issue, especially given the predatory activities of capitalist institutions against the countries of the South.  On slavery and servitude of migrant women in domestic work, Venezuela acknowledged that it was a consequence of neo-liberalism which led to exploitation, hunger, and other social ills.

Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism underlined that workers had been suppressed in different historical times, and called attention to the discrimination of workers by the Ba’ath Party in Iraq, and the damage done to workers by terrorism.  Conectas Direitos Humanos reminded that the previous Independent Expert on a democratic and equitable international order had claimed that there had been no violations of human rights in Venezuela, despite the fact that various other organizations had made statements to the contrary.  The crisis in Venezuela had created one of the greatest exoduses in the region.  The organization thus called on the current Independent Expert to visit Venezuela.  Anti-Slavery International recalled that migrant domestic workers faced grave human rights violations, including exclusion from the scope of labour laws and social protection.  Vulnerability to domestic servitude was substantially increased for those whose visa was tied to their employer.  

Indian Council of South America (CISA) said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had attempted to influence the work of the former Independent Expert on an equitable international order and expressed hope that the new Independent Expert would resist that influence.  Land title rights and the extraction of natural resources played a role in continued colonialism and exploitation.  Plan International, Inc in a joint statement with Defence for Children International and International Federation Terre des Hommes, said that it was important to take both a gender and an age perspective when examining domestic servitude.  Adolescent girls faced a heightened risk of exploitation; they were more likely to face sexual assault, exploitation and abuse from the male members of the family where they worked.  Action Canada for Population and Development, on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative, noted that domestic work remained overwhelmingly the unrecognized and unprotected labour of women, particularly women facing multiple and intersecting oppression from the global South.  It called on States to protect, respect and fulfill migrant women’s human rights, including the right to health.

Minority Rights Group stressed that among domestic workers, Dalits continued to be subject to discrimination in many countries in Asia.  The Rapporteur was encouraged to continue to investigate discrimination, as Dalits were still entrapped in prostitution or low skilled labour and hazardous work conditions.  Human Rights Group was concerned about serious labour and human rights violations against foreign technical interns and trainees in Japan.  Alleged human rights abuses by employers included labour exploitation, sexual harassment, physical violence, confiscation of identification documents, and forced overwork.  International Service for Human Rights drew the Council’s attention to the visit of previous Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order to Venezuela, which had not been done under transparent procedures.  Based on this, there was a lack of balance in the report and an additional problem was that Venezuela did not accept other mandate holders.

Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII noted that the positive contributions of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development was a reality and States had to protect all migrant workers.  The Independent Expert was advised to include the international dimension and connection existing with international solidarity and the right to development as a priority.  Canners International Permanent Committee said that according to a report of the International Labour Organization, millions of people were victims of modern slavery in Pakistan.  The Government was denying millions of people their rights and there was State-imposed child labour.  European Union of Public Relations stressed that forms of slavery ranged from labour trafficking, sexual trade, and recruitment of child soldiers, and they were implemented through different means.  In Pakistan, millions of workers were held in this form of modern slavery and the Government had not put in force any of the anti-slavery laws it had incorporated in its Constitution.

Pan African Union for Science and Technology raised concern about the continued use of slavery and servitude, including bonded labour, child labour and curtailing of labour rights in Pakistan.  The Government of Pakistan needed to start to comply with domestic and international labour laws and pay particular attention to curtailing bonded labour.  International-Lawyers.Org noted with deep concern the discriminatory practices and abuse of domestic workers, particularly migrant women, and said that the international community had a large role to play in protecting their rights.  The root causes, or push factors, such as deep poverty and lack of opportunity, must be addressed, and steps must be taken to ensure their access to justice and the prosecution of perpetrators.  Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc said that labour exploitation and the violation of migrants’ rights in Bahrain remained common, as the country continuously failed to adopt labour laws that applied to domestic workers.  Although it had announced reforms to the sponsorship system, many of its abusive tenants were still unofficially in force.

Concluding Remarks

URMILA BHOOLA, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, commended the use of the so-called “service vouchers” in Belgium, noting that another example of good practices from Belgium was regulating domestic service in diplomatic households.  Good practice was critically important but in many cases, States failed to comply with international laws and also failed to align domestic legislation with international legal provisions protecting the rights of domestic workers.  Recruitment fees had been shown to contribute to bonded labour, thus abolishing them was another example of good practice.  Critically, it was important to ratify key international law instruments, including the International Labour Organization conventions, and to enforce legislation and ensure the rule of law and the protection of rights of migrant workers.  The key push factors for migration - the lack of employment opportunity and poverty due to lack of development - must be addressed, concluded the Special Rapporteur.

LIVINGSTONE SEWANYANA, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, concluded by taking special note of the concerns raised during the interactive dialogue, and stressed that citizen participation – core to an equitable international order - would continue to receive attention in the implementation of the mandate, as would the use of unilateral coercive measures.  The Independent Expert welcomed the expressions of support and cooperation from a number of Governments, and measures they were taking to ensure peaceful and democratic elections in their respective countries.  The mandate, he concluded, was about removing barriers to democratic development and equality, about ensuring full respect of human rights, and about bridging an ideological divide because matters of equity and equal participation were universal and were for all humanity to realize.

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