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U.S. Statement on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work
June 21, 2019

Statement of the Government of the United States upon Adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work
Delivered by U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Martha E. Newton

June 21, 2019

It is easy to agree that violence and harassment should never occur in the workplace.  How to best prevent and remedy workplace violence, however, is far more difficult and complex.   Today, we take an important step toward doing just that.

The United States supports the adoption of this Convention, which recognizes that all violence and harassment in the workplace is unacceptable.

Our vote to adopt the Convention reflects our support for opening the Convention to ratification by Member States, albeit with the recognition that a vote here to adopt the Convention does not itself incur any obligations, nor does it bind governments to ratify or implement the Convention.  Although the non-binding Recommendation sets out useful, concrete measures that can help protect individuals from abuse in their working lives, there are some areas that we wish to clarify.  It is important to acknowledge that lawful enforcement of immigration laws in the workplace should not be construed as harassment by the State under this Convention of either migrants or the employers for whom they work.   The United States also affirms that nothing in this Convention or any other ILO convention affects its sovereign immunity, diplomatic immunity, or any other privileges and immunities conferred by national or international law or by international agreement.  References to the right of everyone to a workplace free from violence and harassment mean that states should endeavor to take appropriate measures to address such violence and harassment.

Chair, the United States is pleased to be part of this momentous occasion.  It is our hope that this Convention will be widely used by governments, employers, and workers – and by the ILO in its own work. We are honored to join you in taking these steps towards a world in which everyone can work safely and with dignity, as we all move to end violence and harassment in the world of work.