Promoting Democracy and Rights at Work: Making a Difference
**To read the full report for this event, please click on the cover image to the left or scroll down to the report link at the bottom of the page. Below is a brief summary of the events proceedings.**
Over the past year the Brazil Institute and the Program on Science, Technology, America and the Global Economy (STAGE) have jointly sponsored a series of events to advance research and dialogue on critical economic issues, focusing particularly on the roles of innovation and labor.
A conference hosted by the Brazil Institute and STAGE in conjunction with the International Labor Organization (ILO) on September 18, 2007, highlighted the main findings of the independent evaluation, Rights at Work: An Assessment of the Declaration's Technical Cooperation in Selected Countries. The report assesses the results of programs in Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Morocco put in place as a result of the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, adopted in 1998 by the ILO. The Declaration represents the global consensus on labor standards and establishes rights in the workplace to provide equal opportunities to all workers. It establishes four categories of rights in the workplace: freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced and compulsory labor, the abolition of child labor, and the elimination of workplace discrimination.
The first panel introduced the Declaration's approach and explained its programmatic rationale. Speakers included the executive director of the Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Sector of the ILO Kari Tapiola, deputy under-secretary for international affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Charlotte Ponticelli, and Colin Fenwick, the director of the Center for Employment and Labor Relations Law at the University of Melbourne and co-author of Rights at Work. Panelists assessed overall accomplishments in the ten years since the Declaration's adoption, and reported on the transformative experiences that have come about from the ILO-DOL partnership, focusing particularly on programs in Brazil, Indonesia, Morocco, and Vietnam.
Participants on a second panel represented the Declaration's tripartite constituency of employers, workers, and government representatives. Helga Ying, director of Worldwide Government Affairs and Public Policy at Levi Strauss, Mércia Consolação Silva of the Instituto Observatório Social (Social Observatory Institute), and Ros Harvey, global program manager for the ILO's Better Work Program, offered an assessment of the lessons learned from the Declaration's work elsewhere in the world. In Brazil, they noted, workplace-related challenges often include racial and gender discrimination and forced or compulsory labor.