UN women's rights mechanisms call on ILO to ensure protection against violence and harassment

Source (institute/publication)
Center for Women's Global Leadership

The platform of independent United Nations and regional expert mechanisms on violence against women and women’s rights* has released a statement calling on the International Labour Organization (ILO) to strongly address violence against women, including harassment as a form of gender-based violence, in a new human rights mechanism to be decided this month.

The ILO will meet in June 2019 to agree the final content of a new instrument on violence and harassment in the world of work. The Platform is calling for the ILO to adopt the strongest possible instrument: a legally-binding convention supplemented by a recommendation. The campaign calls for clear guidance for “clear guidance for governments, employers, and trade unions to identify and eliminate discriminatory behaviors and address the discriminatory outcomes of unequal power relations that lie at the heart of gender-based violence”.

In a new statement, the Platform raises concerns that women’s rights are being eroded as member states take regressive positions during the negotiations of this new instrument, at a national level and during several regional and international fora. This concern was also raised during the closing session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March, where the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences (SRVAW) and the platform of independent United Nations and regional expert mechanisms on violence against women and women’s rights* joined the Secretary-General in calling for strengthened efforts to fight against pushbacks on women’s rights in all regions of the world.

The statement calls on all States involved in the ILO negotiations to uphold standards from international protocols to protect women’s rights, including CEDAW, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Belém do Pará Convention, the Maputo Protocol and the Istanbul Convention.

“In view of the forthcoming 108th session of the ILO in June, which will conclude the negotiations of this new legal instrument, we call on all States to safeguard existing standards on sexual harassment as a human rights violation. A denial of these standards would not only constitute an alarming setback in the promotion and protection of human rights and women’s rights, but would seriously undermine the efforts made by women and men in all regions of the world in the last twenty-five years to advance women’s rights.

We have achieved strong human rights standards and consider that these rollbacks are unacceptable. The role of this platform is to continue upholding these standards, and reminding States of their international obligations.

The platform therefore urges States to support the adoption of a strong new ILO instrument which is aligned to the already agreed standards on human rights. The platform reiterates that it is of paramount importance that States comply with the existing international legal standards recognizing that the human rights of women are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.”

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign is inviting organisations to share the statement widely in the lead up to negotiations for the new ILO instrument on ending violence and harassment in the world of work, which will begin on June 10th at the 108th Session of the International Labour Conference. Click here to share the statement on Twitter using #ILOEndGBV.


* Dubravka Šimonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Hilary Gbedemah Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; Ivana Radačić, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Feride Acar, President of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence of the Council of Europe; Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the IACHR, Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women in Africa and Sylvia Mesa, President of the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention.