Ground-breaking labour instrument to address HIV in the world of work
08 June 2010
A ground-breaking new labour instrument to address HIV in the world of work is one of the issues considered at the annual International Labour Conference (ILC- 99th Session) in Geneva from 2-18 June 2010.
Following ILO’s formal standard setting process, an HIV/AIDS Committee, comprised of 120-150 tripartite representatives, is reviewing ILO’s draft recommendation before its final presentation to the Conference plenary for adoption on 17 June 2010. On 3 June, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Ms Jan Beagle, addressed the HIV/ADS Committee to support the draft formulation of an international labour standard which will be “the first global human rights instrument to focus specifically on HIV and the world of work.”
In 2001, the ILO developed the Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS in the world of work as a framework for workplace action. Since its adoption, it has contributed to fight stigma and discrimination and to break down barriers to testing and treatment in the world of work. Although some progress has been made, prevention and care strategies need bolstering.
Many workers are still subject to stigma and discrimination and the threat, or reality, of losing their jobs due to their HIV status. The international labour standard before this Committee would help change this situation.
UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Ms Jan Beagle
If adopted by the ILC, the proposed recommendation on HIV - which builds on and extends the 10 key principles contained in the ILO Code of Practice - would upscale significantly the impact of prevention programmes undertaken by the ILO and UNAIDS. Protecting human rights such as freedom from discrimination play a tremendous but often overlooked role in facilitating the implementation of prevention programmes. Individuals may find in the workplace a confidential and supportive environment to access prevention, treatment, care and support when needed.
As Ms Jan Beagle expressed, “Many workers are still subject to stigma and discrimination and the threat, or reality, of losing their jobs due to their HIV status. The international labour standard before this Committee would help change this situation.”
UNAIDS welcomes in the draft recommendation the promotion of a coordinated action among governments, employers and workers alike, including networks of people living with HIV. As stated by Ms Beagle, ”one of the key strengths that the AIDS response has brought to the development table, is its capacity to connect and mobilize a wide array of constituencies.”
Ms Beagle paid tribute to the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work, for having raised awareness of the social, economic and development impact of the HIV epidemic and its effects on labour and employment.
The review of the Draft Recommendation by the HIV/AIDS Committee is the last phase of a four year cycle which began in 2007 when the ILO Governing Body requested ILO to place an item on HIV/AIDS and the world of work on the agenda of the 2009 and 2010 Conferences for a double discussion leading to the adoption of an autonomous Recommendation.