ILO Committee on Freedom of Association

Paul van der Heijden, senior visiting scholar of The Hague Institute for Global Justice and head of the Social Justice Expertise Center (SJEC), chaired a several-day meeting of the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on 30-31 May and 7 June in Geneva, Switzerland.

The CFA is an ILO Governing Body committee set up in 1951 to examine complaints and violations of freedom of association, regardless of whether the country concerned has ratified the relevant conventions. The committee is made up of an independent chairperson and nine members, equally representing governments, employers, and workers.

The CFA meeting report drew special attention to serious and urgent cases involving human life, personal freedom, or new or changing conditions affecting the freedom of action of a trade union movement as a whole in Guatemala, Iran, and Venezuela.

The committee expressed satisfaction about the number of cases in which its recommendations were taken into account. These and other developments were warmly welcomed by committee chairman van der Heijden, who encouraged other governments to continue their efforts to find rapid and effective mechanisms to ensure greater protection of trade union rights. The report [pdf] of the meeting has been adopted by the ILO Governing Body.

SJEC, a collaboration between The Hague Institute for Global Justice and Leiden University, is headed by Professor Van der Heijden. It aims to provide advice and information related to adopting, applying, implementing, and enforcing existing social justice frameworks by facilitating dialogue among relevant stakeholders, including trade unions, employers organizations, and other labor rights forums. Professor Van der Heijden has been president of the CFA since 2002.

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