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Organization: International Labor Rights Forum
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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Postal address of organization/institution

2001 S Street NW, Suite 420
Washington, DC 20009
United States

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Website address of organization/institution


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PRIORITIES: All of the organization's domains of culture of peace activity


TOP PRIORITY: The organization's most important culture of peace activity


PARTNERSHIPS AND NETWORKS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

ILRF serves a unique role among human rights organizations as advocates for and with working poor around the world. ILRF partners with a number of organizations around the world, many organizations and unions that work directly with laborers. Perhaps our greatest contribution to the broader labor rights movement over the past 20 years has been our ability to work closely with grassroots partners in developing countries to gather detailed information about labor rights violations and build solid cases to test the effectiveness of US and international legislation.

ACTIONS: What activities have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the ten years of the Decade? If you already made a report in 2005, your information from 2005 will be included in the 2010 report.

Linking Labor Rights to Trade — Working with leaders of the labor movement, members of the original founders of ILRF created and successfully advocated for the first ever workers’ rights protection clause in US trade legislation in 1984. The Workers’ Rights Conditionality Clause in the General System of Preferences (GSP) requires that any country seeking preferential access to US markets must respect the internationally recognized workers’ rights of its workforce, including the right to freedom of association.

Linking Labor Rights to Foreign Assistance - ILRF led a broad-based coalition that convinced the US government to place human rights conditions on US foreign aid to the Philippines. ILRF was also able to convince the US government to launch an investigation into the continuing labor rights violations in the Philippines and place the trade benefits of the Philippine government under review.

Cocoa Campaign — ILRF has long maintained a public awareness and advocacy campaign to end child labor in the cocoa farms of West Africa. In 2009, ILRF helped to finally convince the first of the chocolate giants, Cadbury, to make a commitment to Fair Trade certified cocoa standards and expects more companies to follow this example.

Stop Firestone Campaign — For over two and a half years, ILRF worked with allies in the US and Liberia to support workers on Firestone’s rubber plantation in Liberia and to stop the use of child labor. Through the campaign and the organizing efforts of workers, an historic collective bargaining agreement was signed between the workers and Firestone in August 2008. This is the first contract Firestone has signed with an independent and democratically elected union leadership in over 80 years of operating in Liberia.

China Labor Law Program - Since 2003, ILRF has worked with Chinese partners to address the need for more judges, labor law practitioners, and workers who are trained in the content of the country’s labor laws and in the advocacy skills needed to better represent workers’ claims in arbitration and court. Together with its partners, ILRF has trained over 350 judges, arbitrators, lawyers, employees of government legal aid centers and the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), as well as thousands of workers.

Unocal Burma Case - In 1996, ILRF filed a precedent-setting lawsuit against Unocal on behalf of thousands of Burmese villagers who were forced to work on the construction of a natural gas pipeline for the company. In addition to forced labor, the Burmese military, who worked in collaboration with the company, also murdered, raped, and tortured Burmese villagers during the construction period. After almost ten years of litigation, Unocal settled on April 13, 2005, and agreed not only to compensate the workers, but to also provide funds for programs in Burma to improve living conditions and protect the rights of villagers in the pipeline region.

Global March Against Child Labor - ILRF played a leading role in a worldwide campaign that mobilized millions of people in 109 countries to promote the passage of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The global march started on January 17, 1998, and highlighted the hidden forms of child labor – children in the fields, in domestic servitude, in prostitution, and in the street as beggars. The year following the march, the International Labor Organization unanimously adopted the convention, and over 150 countries have ratified the convention to date.

FOULBALL Campaign - Starting in 1996, ILRF began working extensively with international partners to expose the pervasive use of child labor in the production of soccer balls. Through intervention and negotiation with large producers like Nike and Reebok, ILRF was instrumental in convincing the industry to shift production to adult labor and to establish education programs for the former child workers.

Fairness in Flower Campaign - Since 2003, ILRF has worked to promote the labor rights, with a specific focus on the occupational health and safety, of female workers in the cut flower industry. After a five year campaign, ILRF was able to help cut flower workers in Colombia secure signed contracts on two Dole flower plantations in July 2008. The contracts will provide benefits such as significant pay increases, improved vacation and sick time, and additional pay for workers exposed to hazardous chemicals.  

Cotton Campaign - ILRF has led a US coalition to end systemic forced and child labor that pervades the cotton fields of Uzbekistan. ILRF has promoted diplomatic and trade pressure and engaged with organic, fair trade cotton producers and major companies seeking “clean” sources of cotton to end this practice. In mid-2008, as a direct result of pressure from ILRF and its allies, the Government of Uzbekistan ratified the two key ILO conventions against child labor, Conventions 182 and 138.

Workers in the Global Economy - In 2001, ILRF produced groundbreaking analysis of the effects of trade rules on workers in the publication Workers in the Global Economy. After a decade of trade modeled on the Washington Consensus, ILRF’s publication shattered the illusion that free trade without protection for workers is viable, and offered alternative solutions to the International Monetary Fund as well as other global financial institutions.

World Bank - Worked with trade unions and NGOs in Brazil and Central America to bring about the first successful efforts to demand public accountability on labor rights violations in World Bank Projects.

RUGMARK - established RUGMARK in the U.S., an innovative program which moves child laborers in the carpet industry from work to school, and helped create a system of international governance for RUGMARK. To date, the program has certified over two million child labor-free carpets.

PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the second half of the Decade?

As social- and consumer-accountability becomes more of a societal norm there has been great progress in the power of the buyer. ILRF has played a strong role in educating consumers with respect to their power in relationship to multi-lateral and corporate companies. Additionally, ILRF has substantially contributed to government oversight which led to changes such as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, amongst others. However, we still believe that there is a great deal of work to be accomplished. ILRF will continue to utilize existing mechanisms in a targeted way to promote an end to abusive labor rights practices in selected countries, where partners have expressed an interest in utilizing such instruments.

OBSTACLES: Has your organization faced any obstacles to implementing the culture of peace and nonviolence? If so, what were they?

Child labor remains a global endemic.  Admirable attention has been paid in recent years to children trafficked and exploited for sex work.  However, far less attention has gone to the much more sizeable problem of children who are trafficked, bonded or otherwise forced to work in economic activities that directly link to the legitimate, formal economy.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization in the short, medium and long term to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence?

We recognize that while binding international legal norms are the ideal, we are years away from achieving this goal.  In the interim, we must engage and push the panoply of voluntary initiatives that are beginning to set industry standards in this area.  It is for this reason that ILRF approaches humane treatment of workers from a variety of avenues; not only does ILRF develop strong and meaningful relationships with local grassroots organizations and workers directly, but ILRF also acts a collective voice for national and international legislation that directly and indirectly effects the existing rights of laborers internationally.

GLOBAL MOVEMENT: How do you think the culture of peace and nonviolence could be strengthened and supported at the world level??

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Organization: International Labor Rights Forum

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