Burmese Nobel Laureate Meets with Global Employers

Aung San Suu Kyi address the International Organization of Employers, flanked by IOE Secretary General Brent Wilton (Left) and IOE Executive Vice President Daniel Funes de Rioja.
Aung San Suu Kyi address the International Organization of Employers, flanked by IOE Secretary General Brent Wilton (Left) and IOE Executive Vice President Daniel Funes de Rioja.

In a special session of the International Labor Organization’s annual conference in Geneva yesterday, the Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was warmly welcomed on behalf of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) by IOE Executive Vice President Daniel Funes de Rioja of Argentina.  USCIB is the IOE’s American affiliate and serves as the voice of American business in the ILO.

Before inviting Suu Kyi to take the floor, Funes de Rioja reaffirmed the employers’ commitment to the tripartite values of the International Labor Organization including the fundamental principles and rights at work laid out in the 1998 ILO Declaration.

Suu Kyi noted that good employer-worker relations would be essential in bringing harmonious prosperity to Burma, and that business should, in considering investing in the country, consider such an endeavor to be a cooperative effort between employers, workers and government. “Investment in Burma should be democracy-friendly and human rights-friendly,” she said.  “this would help us to build Burma.”

In response, Funes de Rioja gave the assurance of the employers that they would work to build solid relationships with workers in Burma, with the respect of fundamental principles and rights at work forming the essence of such a relationship.

Words of support were offered to Ms. Suu Kyi from the IOE’s regional vice president for Asia, Kamran Rahman, as well as from employers’ spokespersons in Brazil, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

As the employer spokesperson on the case involving Myanmar in the ILO over many years, Ed Potter, director of global workplace rights with The Coca-Cola Company and chair of USCIB’s Labor and Employment Policy Committee, welcomed Suu Kyi’s emphasis on democracy and human rights-led growth.  This, he said, provided a solid base for companies to enter Burma and paved the way for investment. He particularly thanked Suu Kyi for “defining how businesses enter your country …. very much in a human rights, workplace rights- focused environment.”

Staff contact: Ariel Meyerstein

More on USCIB’s Labor and Employment Policy Committee

Staff Contact:   Gabriella Rigg Herzog

VP, Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs
Tel: 212.703.5056

Gabriella Rigg Herzog leads USCIB policy and programs on corporate responsibility, international labor standards and corporate governance. She manages USCIB engagement with its affiliated organizations, U.S. government agencies, and United Nations agencies on international corporate responsibility principles, codes of conduct and multi-stakeholder initiatives, as well as international and transnational regulatory activities on labor and employment policies, sustainable development and corporate governance.
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