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Responding department: Ministry of Employment, Labour, and Social Security

Note: This response was originally submitted in French.  Unofficial English translation provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

Has your government taken any initiatives to reduce companies’ negative impacts on human rights that you consider particularly successful?

Niger has ratified 36 ILO conventions, including the eight (8) fundamental conventions on human rights, namely:

1. Forced Labour Convention (No. 29)

2. Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No. 105)

3. Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (No. 87)

4. Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (No. 98)

5. Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100)

6. Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. 111)

7. Minimum Age Convention (No. 138)

8. Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182)

In addition to these fundamental conventions are other no less important ones, such as the Labour Inspection Convention (No. 81), the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (No. 102), the Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183), the Occupational Safety and Health Convention (No. 155), the Occupational Health Services Convention (No. 161) and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention (No. 187).

Furthermore, Niger has transposed the provisions of these conventions into its national legislation and, in particular, into the revised Labour Code adopted on 25 September 2012. Among the main innovations contained in this new Labour Code, it should be noted that the provisions on forced labour, discrimination against people living with HIV-AIDS or sickle-cell disease, and the worst forms of child labour have been strengthened. Emerging risks, sexual harassment in the workplace, the employment of people with disabilities (5% of job vacancies must be set aside for them), etc. have also been taken into account.

What department or departments have significant responsibility for business and human rights within your government?

Centrally, the Labour Administration is responsible for: developing rules within its area of competence; ensuring the application of provisions laid down on matters of work, social security and occupational safety and health; providing employers and workers with advice and recommendations; coordinating and controlling the departments and bodies involved in enforcing social legislation; conducting all studies and surveys relating to various social issues, except those covered by technical departments, with which the Labour Administration may nevertheless be called upon to collaborate; and bringing to the attention of the competent authority any shortcomings or abuses not specifically covered by existing legal or regulatory provisions.

Besides central departments, the Labour Administration comprises decentralised departments (Labour Inspectorates) and establishments under its tutelage (National Social Security Fund [CNSS], National Agency for the Promotion of Employment [ANPE] and National Employment and Training Observatory [ONEP]).

Likewise, on the specific matter of combating child labour, the Anti-Child Labour Unit (CTE), a body that provides services of consultation, coordination and monitoring/evaluation of all activities to combat child labour in Niger, became the Anti-Child Labour Division in 2014, thereby giving this issue the importance it deserves.

An Anti-child Labour National Steering Committee was set up in 2000. It is a body that guides activities for combating child labour in Niger and is made up of representatives of state structures, employers’ professional associations, trade unions, non-governmental organizations and associations, UN institutions and agencies, programmes and projects aimed at combating child labour, and two (2) observer members, namely, the representatives of the French and the United States Embassies in Niger.

On the matter of combating forced labour and discrimination, an Anti-Forced Labour and Anti-Discrimination National Commission was set up in 2007 to assist with the activities of the Anti-Forced Labour and Anti-Discrimination Support Project (BIT/PACTRAD), which is currently inactive due to a lack of funds.

Likewise, the National Coordinating Unit of Occupational Safety and Health Committees has been set up, as have representative offices of the Coordinating Unit in the country’s eight (8) regions.

Has your government undertaken new business & human rights initiatives or strengthened existing ones since the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles in June 2011?

Yes

What are the top 5 priority issues that your government has taken steps to address since June 2011?

Types of company impacts prioritised:

  • Health (including environmental health , workplace health & safety)
  • Forced labour & trafficking
  • Discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Other core labour rights (including freedom of association & trade union rights)
  • Housing
  • Freedom of expression & right to privacy
  • Abuses linked to security for company operations (e.g.: torture & ill-treatment)
  • Women's rights
  • Impacts on children, including child labour
  • Migrant workers

Actions on health

Free care for children up to the age of five years; free caesarean sections; free breast cancer care; facilities given to kidney failure patients on dialysis; the setting up of a National Technical Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health; Occupational Safety and Health Committees in firms; an Environmental Impact Study Office, etc.

Actions on forced labour & trafficking

The setting up of a National Anti-Human Trafficking Commission and a National Anti-Human Trafficking Agency; the production of films/sketches and broadcasts about human trafficking; the introduction of tougher sentences for the perpetrators and accomplices of human trafficking or analogous practices; the translation of the ILO’s fundamental conventions into Hausa and Zarma, the country’s two main national languages, etc.

Actions on sexual harrassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace has been taken into account in the new Labour Code.

Actions on core labour rights (including freedom of association)

The process of organising professional elections for trade union representation has begun, with a view to improving social governance in this area.

Actions on housing

Social housing has been built for workers.

Other actions

In addition to the above-mentioned legal and institutional programmes, the following plans and policies should be noted:

  • The development and adoption of a nationwide Decent Work Promotion Programme (PPTD)
  • The development and adoption of a National Employment Policy, currently under review
  • The development of a draft National Action Plan for combating the worst forms of child labour, submitted to the government for adoption
  • The development of a draft National Action Plan for combating forced labour and discrimination, submitted to the government for adoption
  • The development of a draft National Occupational Safety and Health Policy
  • The development of a draft List of Occupational Diseases

On matters of work, employment and social security, all the measures were taken after tripartite consultations (government, employers’ professional organizations and workers’ organizations) and even quadripartite consultations because, on sensitive issues such as combating the worst forms of child labour or forced labour, it is often necessary to involve key civil-society organizations (non-governmental organizations and associations).

Has your government adopted a National Action Plan on business and human rights as encouraged by the UN Human Rights Council and UN Working Group on business & human rights, or will it do so in the future?

  • Draft National Action Plan Project for combating the worst forms of child labour, and
  • Draft National Action Plan Project for combating forced labour and discrimination, both of which have been submitted to the government for adoption.

If your government has adopted a National Action Plan or is planning on adopting one, please highlight whether it makes reference to international human rights standards and whether it was developed in consultation with affected stakeholders.

Yes, the two above-mentioned draft Action Plans make reference to the international conventions ratified by Niger and have been developed with the full involvement of all stakeholders concerned.

Which factors impede your government’s ability to take action on business and human rights?

Significant factors:

  • Lack of resources for enforcement, monitoring and prosecution
  • Opposition by economic interest groups or business associations
  • Other opposition by influential people or groups outside government
  • Political limitations imposed by foreign governments or multilateral institutions
  • Concern about deterring foreign investment
  • Lack of understanding or awareness of business & human rights in government
  • Challenges of coordinating across government departments

Minor factor:

  • Lack of understanding or awareness of business & human rights in government

Not a factor:

  • Opposition or lack of consensus within government

Please share with us any further comments, including ideas for future collaboration and shared learning to advance business & human rights.

Building the capacity of stakeholders through short- and long-term training, organizing workshops for exchanging experiences, study trips, etc.