On the occasion, ILO Director in Vietnam, Dr Chang-Hee Lee granted an interview to Nhan Dan (People) Television to share his viewpoint on the decision and suggested ways to best implement this convention when it comes into effect.
Question: What is the meaning of Vietnam’s ratifying Convention 105?
ILO Director in Vietnam, Dr Chang-Hee Lee: It means many good things for Vietnam. By ratifying Convention 105 on Abolition of Forced Labour, Vietnam send a strong signal to international community and trade partners that Vietnam is committed to universal principles of the ILO, particularly those related to Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the ILO.
By ratifying Convention 105, Vietnam has ratified 7 out of 8 ILO core conventions under the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This is a great progress. You may know that new generation of FTA requires party to FTA to full respect the ILO Declaration. By ratifying Convention 105, Vietnam has gained favourable conditions for its international trade by fulfilling its obligations under CPTPP and EVFTA.
But more importantly, I would like to say that ratification of Convention 105 helps to fully realize principles of 2013 Constitution which provide constitutional protection of human and labour rights, and domestic laws including 2019 Labour Code.
All in all, ratification of Convention 105 shows Vietnam is becoming a leader not only in successfully fighting against COVID 19 but also in ensuring Decent Work for all by modernizing its social and labour standards in line with ILS.
Can you explain, in a simple way, what forced labour is?
As defined at Article 2 Convention No.29 of the ILO on forced or compulsory labour: forced labour means all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace (in other words, threat) of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. There are three factors in deciding certain type of work or service can be regarded as forced labour.
– First, a person performs a work or service for others;
– Second, this person does not offer himself/herself to perform the work or service voluntarily;
– Third, this person performs such work or service under a threat of a penalty.
ILO’s press release states that the non-use of forced labour in the goods production or services is also considered as the “laissez-passer” for Vietnamese enterprises to access global markets. Can you elaborate this point?
Let me first give you some numbers. According to ILO global estimates, there are 24.9 million victims of forced labour throughout the world, out of which 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture. Also ILO estimates show forced labour in the private economy generates globally US$ 150 billion in illegal profits.
However, in most of the countries around the world today, the import of products made by forced labour are prohibited by laws. People of developed countries have developed a habit of boycotting products related to forced labour. In particular, now that CPTPP is in force and EVFTA would come into force very soon, Vietnam’s labour practice, including forced labour, will come under much stronger scrutiny of its trade partners under CPTPP and EVFTA.
Therefore, the prevention and combating the use of forced labour in enterprises helps enterprises avoid the risks of their products being rejected or boycotted by importing countries.
That is why we say the non-use of forced labour in the goods production or services can be the “laissez-passer” for Vietnamese goods and services to get access to global markets.
What will Vietnam need to prepare to best implement this convention when it comes into effect?
We are at the moment discussing with the government on what to be done in coming months and years.
I believe that first, there should be joint efforts for raising the public awareness on forced labour, for both female and male workers and employers and business associations. In this respect, the communication and advocacy is a key and your roles as journalists are important.
There is also a need for building capacity of line ministries, trade unions and employers for effective implementation and monitoring of Convention 105.
The ratification of Convention 105 creates an obligation of the Government to report to the ILO about the implementation of Convention 105. For this, ILO plans to help to building capacity for the government to monitor the progress, report the implementation of the Convention 105 to ILO’s supervisory machinery that the Committee of Experts on Application of Conventions and Recommendation.
The government report will be closely reviewed not only in the ILO process but also by Vietnam’s trade partners under CPTPP and EVFTA.