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Belgium

In the baseline analysis, workers’ rights was identified as one of the core issues that the NAP should cover.

Action point 8

Encourage international framework agreements

Encourager les accords-cadres internationaux

This point briefly mentions that international agreements “are mainly based on the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.” And that “a large number of agreements are also targeting suppliers and subcontractors”. It also describes that in September 2007, the International Metalworkers’ Federation, the International Federation of Chemical Workers and Umicore concluded an international framework agreement, including the respect for human rights, labor rights and the environment . Umicore’s agreement was the first ever concluded by a Belgian multinational company.

Action point 13

Strengthen and monitor the respect for human rights in public procurement

Renforcer et contrôler le respect des droits de l’Homme dans les marchés publics

The NAP explains that procurement policy considers compliance with the Basic Conventions of the International Labor Organization as an essential performance criterion. However, procurement policy could also include more specific emphasis on the respect for other human and labour rights.

  • The Flemish government adds that “sustainable public procurement is an important lever in promoting the respect for workers’ rights. They are a good way to encourage and/or require companies to formally commit themselves to better working conditions internally and within their international supply chains.

Action point 14

Evaluate the Belgian label to promote socially responsible production

Evaluer le label belge visant à promouvoir la production socialement responsible

This point presents “the Belgian label” that was a product label created in 2002 and promulgated by law to promote socially responsible production. Companies able to demonstrate that core labor standards were respected throughout their production chain for their products and services, can apply the “Belgian social label” to these products and services. The Minister for Economic Affairs grants the label on the basis of a binding opinion by a stakeholder committee.

While the Belgian social label guarantees consumers the respect for human rights, and labor rights in particular, throughout the entire supply chain, a series of limitations seem to have held back its success. The planned action includes drawing up these limitations, so that solutions can be formulated for the relaunch of a new upgraded label. Moreover, the NAP suggests that the information collected from the research may be useful for the discussion on introducing a “Made in Europe” label, which should promote respect for European standards, including the respect for human rights, with particular attention on workers’ rights and products.

Action point 17

Advocate for strengthening the integration of sustainable development (including human rights) in free trade agreements

Plaider au niveau de la Belgique pour le renforcement de l’intégration du développement durable (y compris des droits de l’Homme) dans les accords de libre échange

The federal government states that during negotiations at the European level, Belgium will advocate for the respect and inclusion of fundamental labour rights and international environmental standards – including in cases of development cooperation – in investment agreements and free trade agreements.

  • The government of Wallonia states that it will continue to advocate for the revision of model texts used in negotiations of commercial treaties in order for them to specifically respect human rights, labour rights and social norms, as well as environmental measures, accompanied by financial or commercial sanctions.

Action point 26

Pay particular attention to the ratification of a series of ILO conventions to health and safety at work

Accorder une attention particulière à la ratification d’une série de conventions de l’OIT ayant trait à la santé et la sécurité au travail

This point addresses the issue of workers’ rights, particularly the issue of the right to health and security at work. Engagements will include the ratification of:

  • ILO Convention No. 187 on Occupational Safety and Health.
  • ILO Convention No. 167 on Safety and Health in Construction.
  • Convention No. 170 on Safety in the Use of Chemical Substances at Work

The government explains that by ratifying these key safety and health conventions “Belgium will not only strengthen its own occupational health and safety system, but also to encourage
other countries to follow through.”

Action point 28

Implementation of the Flemish Action Plan “Sustainable International Entrepreneurship 2014-2015-2016”

Exécution du Plan d’action flamand “Entrepreneuriat international durable 2014-2015-2016” (« Duurzaam Internationaal Ondernemen 2014-2015-2016 »)

The government of Flanders states that “besides the need to raise awareness of international guidelines and to provide support for their implementation, there is a specific need for practical advice and instructions (on environmental standards, labor rights, human rights) to apply sustainable international entrepreneurship in selected countries and sectors.

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