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#MeToo protest sign
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/M. Fludra

#MeToo treaty ratified by UN labor agency

June 21, 2019

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has adopted a new treaty against violence and harassment in the workplace. Sparked by the #MeToo movement, six countries still abstained from the plans, including Russia.


The United Nation's labor agency on Friday ratified its first convention aimed explicitly at reducing violence and harassment at work.

The International Labor Organization's Convention on Violence and Harassment was adopted 439-7 with 30 abstentions on the final day of the body's annual assembly in Geneva.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder credited the #MeToo movement with accentuating the "momentum and significance" of the push to adopt the convention.

But he said work was started on the project two years before the first sexual harassment and assault allegations emerged against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

All but six governments voted in favor of the pact. Russia, Singapore, El Salvador, Malaysia, Paraguay and Kyrgyzstan abstained. Employers representatives from Malaysia and several Latin American countries voted against the proposals.

#MeToo realities for women in India

LGBT concerns not addressed

Despite the overwhelming majority for the proposals, delegates did fail to include language that singled out Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) victims of those crimes, following concerns from some conservative states.

Employers, too, had been concerned about whether they would be held responsible for abuse among colleagues that happened away from the workplace.

The final text obligates employers to prevent violence and harassment "commensurate with their degree of control."

The treaty, which will be binding on governments that ratify it, was agreed on the 100th anniversary of the ILO's creation.

The labor body is the only agency set up under the League of Nations following World War I that survived fascism in Europe and the outbreak of World War II — ultimately becoming incorporated into the United Nations.

mm/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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