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Public Papers - 1991

Message to the Senate on the International Labor Organization Convention Concerning the Abolition of Forced Labor


To the Senate of the United States:

The Convention (No. 105) Concerning the Abolition of Forced Labor, adopted by the International Labor Conference at Geneva on June 25, 1957, was transmitted to the Senate by President Kennedy on July 22, 1963, with a view to receiving advice and consent to ratification. Although hearings were held in 1967 by the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Senate has not acted further on the Convention.

Now, 23 years later, I urge the Senate to consider anew this important Convention and to grant its advice and consent to ratification. Given the length of time that has elapsed, I enclose a new report from the Secretary of State concerning the Convention.

The report of the Secretary of State also contains the texts of two proposed understandings. As explained more fully in the accompanying letter from the Secretary of Labor, the law and practice of the United States fully conform to all obligations contained in the Convention (a copy of the Convention is included as an enclosure to this letter). Ratification of this Convention, therefore, would not require the United States to alter in any way its law or practice in this field. However, to remove the possibility that certain ambiguities might arise after ratification, it is proposed that ratification of the Convention be made subject to these understandings.

Ratification by the United States of selected Conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) enhances our ability to take other governments to task for failing to comply with ILO instruments they have ratified. In part for this reason, the Senate has in recent years given its advice and consent to the ratification of ILO Conventions 144, 147, and 160. I accordingly recommend that the Senate also give its advice and consent to the ratification of ILO Convention 105.

George Bush

The White House,

February 19, 1991.

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