Tuesday, 15 June 2010, 10.05 a.m.
Presidents: Mr de Robien and Mr Nakajima
REPORTS OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE GOVERNING BODY AND OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL: DISCUSSION (CONT.)
Original Arabic: Ms ARIF (Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, Syrian Arab Republic)
May those Arabs reading or listening to my statement forgive me if I begin this time, not with our traditional greetings of the peace, mercy and blessings of God, but instead with some words of a globalized nature, lest I be assailed by the rebuke of the victims of the freedom flotilla, and dare not face the people living in chains and under siege in Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan.
For what peace can there be when industries are replaced by graves; what mercy can we hope for when buildings are replaced by ruins; and what blessings can we aspire to when development is replaced by destruction?
May the Director-General forgive me for making certain corrections to his Report on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories:
– Gaza is not, as the Report states, “a graveyard of industries”; rather, the brutal entity is attempting to turn it into a “graveyard of rights”, a “graveyard of humanity”;
– the Gaza blockade is not, as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon puts it, “unacceptable, unsustainable and counterproductive”; it is “barbaric, Hun-like, and violates rights and standards”.
The Palestinians and Syrians in the Golan are not only suffering from this occupation, it is not only their rights and dignity that are flouted daily, but their right to life that is being denied.
Employment opportunities in this region are not provided by an active economy based on decent work; rather, it is an economy intent on starving and massacring people and pillaging lands.
The economic policy in this occupied region of the Arab world has led to destruction, not development: increased restrictions on transport and access; construction of the apartheid wall; continuing incursions by the occupier; expansion of settlements; exhaustion of natural resources; and proliferation of acts of violence by settlers.
A true description of the situation of workers in Palestine and in the Golan in general and Gaza, in particular, would be as follows: “absence of growth, worsening unemployment and absolute poverty, rising prices, loss of livelihoods and social collapse”.
In short, it is a crisis of rights, a crisis of peace.
This is why, Director-General, Syria continues to insist that international efforts need to focus on a just peace that supports the rights of the parties, otherwise all the efforts made will remain nothing more than stop-gap aid in the form of palliative measures that do not treat the problem. For there can be no political development, no economic or social progress, and no coexistence if safety and security are not ensured.
This is also why, Director-General, it pained me to read your Reports, Recovery and growth with decent work and Employment policies for social justice and a fair globalization. Can we all convince those suffering under the yoke of oppression and poverty of the existence of decent work?
Can we give them examples of fair globalization and social justice that create jobs?
How will we justify the pillaging of lands, the siege on life, the expulsion of families, the restriction of movement, the imprisonment of brothers and sons, the prohibition on rites of worship, the pollution of air and violation of humanitarian principles?
And how will we demonstrate the advantages of globalization, the importance of the international community and the effectiveness of our organizations which continue to resort to diplomacy against the state terrorism practiced by Israel?
What reasons will we give for failing to isolate this cruel entity, which violates every humanitarian principle, from the membership of organizations and the international community?
It is difficult to accept the Director-General's Report as it is. Despite our appreciation for the professional and technical nature of the Report, it confines itself to the theoretical aspects of research, which need to be put into practice.
In Syria, the occupier has not allowed us to extend our programmes and plans to the part of our land that was seized in our beloved Golan. These have not been applied, despite the desire to achieve growth that benefits the poor and distributive justice; to provide permanent infrastructure for the establishment of SMEs; and to extend social security and protection networks.
Perhaps my frankness will be perceived as offensive. Perhaps my transparency will be seen as harsh. However, the embargo on Gaza, the people of the Golan and Palestinian children and activists of the freedom flotilla demonstrate the reality of what I have said. I have spoken the truth, as I was taught, and as my country was taught, otherwise I would not deserve my Syrian Arab identity. With you, I commend Turkey for enabling us to stand proud.
Original Arabic: Mr GHARBI (Minister of Social Affairs, Solidarity and Tunisians Abroad, Tunisia)
The deterioration of living conditions for workers in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories is a source of worry and deep concern, which violates the most basic fundamental human rights. Given the importance Tunisia places on universal noble values and its constant support for the causes of justice, peace, security and stability, Tunisia reiterates its support for all the current initiatives to seek a fair, sustainable and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian issue.
(The Conference adjourned at 1.30 p.m.)
Tuesday, 15 June 2010, 2.30 p.m.
Presidents: Ms Powell and Mr de Robien
REPORTS OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE GOVERNING BODY AND OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL: DISCUSSION (CONT.)
Original Arabic: Mr JRAD (Worker, Tunisia)
Successful development depends on stability and peace, and this requires mobilizing all our energies to eliminate the causes of tension and violence, and, first and foremost, occupation, in particular that in the Arab region.
We seek the well-being of all the peoples of the world, and therefore condemn the war crimes perpetrated by Israeli authorities, the last of which was the attack on the freedom flotilla. Israel must be forced to put an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories so that the Palestinian people can build an independent State, with Al-Quds as its capital.
Original Arabic: Mr HARB (Minister of Labour, Lebanon)
In conclusion, on behalf of Lebanon, I want to appeal for an immediate end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and for an end to the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, in the interest of achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, the establishment of a Palestinian State and the return of Palestinian refugees. Justice is indivisible, and only political stability and security can guarantee social and economic justice and the release of the part of the Lebanese territory which is still occupied.
The foundation of all stability is the protection of the inalienable rights of all.
Original Arabic: Mr BEN SEDRINE (Employer, Tunisia)
I also want to underline the importance of the Report's appendix, The situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories. This reminds us of the suffering of the Palestinian people: the workers, traders, artisans, women and children living under occupation and blockade and deprived of fundamental human rights, development, investment and employment.
I want to launch an appeal to the tripartite social partners around the world to take the necessary action to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people and find a fair and equitable solution to their legitimate cause in order to guarantee safety and stability for the entire region.
Original French: Mr GUIRO (Worker, Senegal)
Once again I want to strongly reaffirm the support of my country's workers for the Palestinian people, who are the victims of an unjustified, interminable and unsustainable blockade imposed by Israel, in the face of total indifference from the international community. Measures must be taken urgently to guarantee the human rights of the Palestinian people and create lasting peace in the region.
Mr BROSH (Employer, Israel)
First I would like to refer to the Director-General's Report on the subject of the Palestinian workers in the Territories and the remarks that have been made in this regard. I suggest that all delegations should distinguish between problems arising out of the political situation and between subjects dealing with labour and economy, on which the ILO needs to focus.
Even today, despite the political situation, there are economic and trade talks between Israel and the Palestinians living in the West Bank. As I have told you in the past, the chances for a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbour will increase if both sides understand that they have common interests and that economic cooperation will help to reduce violence, improve welfare for the inhabitants, and improve chances for peace.
Original Arabic: Mr MAATOUK (Representative, International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions)
While ICATU welcomes the Director-General's efforts and appreciates his mission to Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories, and the valuable report he has presented to us, we support the comments of the Arab group concerning the report of the mission, and call on the Director-General to support the six-point strategy of the Palestinian Ministry of Labour, to work towards holding an international conference to provide the necessary support to the Palestinian Employment Fund, and to refer the violations committed by the occupation authorities to the competent bodies of the Organization.
We strongly condemn the attack by the Israeli occupation forces on the freedom convoy carrying food aid and medicine to a people besieged for years under the worst forms of blockade. We call for an international convention to protect relief workers and volunteers transporting aid in such cases.
Lastly, we must call on the occupation authorities to respect and implement all the resolutions under international law, to withdraw immediately and fully from all the occupied Arab territories in Palestine and the Syrian Golan, and the Shebaa farms and the Kafr Shuba hills of Lebanon, and to allow the return of the displaced Palestinian people to its land, to build an independent State with Al-Quds as its capital.
(The Conference adjourned at 7.30 p.m.)