|Mission Statement for the Office of International Labor Affairs|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
U.S. Department of State, May 5, 2000
The United States believes worker rights are human rights, as stated explicitly in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United States works through bilateral and multilateral channels to encourage observance of the core worker rights as internationally recognized in the International Labor Organization's 1999 Declaration on "Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and Its Follow-up."
Observance of fundamental worker rights, through properly enforced labor codes, contributes to both economic development and democratization. Respect for workers' rights, in particular their right to organize and bargain collectively, helps to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared broadly throughout societies, thus contributing to social and political harmony and sustained growth. Trade unions and workers' organizations are important participants in democratic processes, providing a popular voice, and protecting democratic rights. They are often among the most durable social institutions. Trade unions and workers' organizations also can play a central role in efforts to bridge ethnic, racial, and religious divisions within societies by organizing workers around their common economic and workplace interests.
In accordance with these principles and beliefs, the United States seeks to:
Office of International Labor (DRL/IL) Mission
The Office of International Labor Affairs promotes the rights of workers throughout the world. The Office seeks to ensure that all workers can exercise their rights in the workplace and thus share in the prosperity of the global economy. To this end, the Office:
The International Labor Affairs Office seeks to ensure that U.S. goals of expanded exports, open markets, global growth, and economic development will proceed with fair treatment of workers in all countries. Such economic progress, coupled with respect for the fundamental rights of workers, will strengthen democratic development, foster the growth of consumer markets, and provide a more stable environment for civil society and the promotion of human rights.
The Office promotes workers' rights and interests overseas through cooperation with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Commerce; the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Agency for International Development, and the National Economic Council, among others. It also cooperates closely with U.S. organized labor, NGOs with an expertise in labor issues, and with corporations.
The International Labor Affairs Office is administering a $4 million "anti-sweatshop initiative," to fund the development of and research into approaches and mechanisms to combat sweatshop labor in overseas factories that produce for the U.S. market.
The Office also provides support to the "Advisory Committee on Labor Diplomacy," which advises the President and the Secretary of State on how to strengthen the labor function at the State Department.
The Office is a principal channel of communication between organized labor in the United States and the Department of State.