Ambassador Rubinstein’s Remarks
At Opening Ceremony
For Launch of “All Against Child Labor in Tunisia” Project
Hammamet, April 17, 2017
Good morning. It is a great pleasure to be here with you today in beautiful Hammamet, and an honor to share the stage with such distinguished company as Minister Trabelsi, Minister Laabidi, and representatives from the International Labor Organization, UGTT, UTICA, and UTAP. The Embassy is also pleased to welcome representatives from the United States Department of Labor who are here to participate in this week’s workshop. All of us have the good fortune to gather together today in the name of a great cause, one that is common to all countries and all cultures around the world—the promotion of children’s welfare.
I want to congratulate the International Labor Organization and participating government ministries and civil society organizations for the opening workshop of the “Together Against Child Labor in Tunisia” project. This will be a five year, $3 million effort funded by the United States Department of Labor and carried out by the International Labor Organization, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs, UGTT, UTICA, and UTAP. The project will support Tunisia’s efforts to fulfil its constitutional commitment to its citizens to provide protection and education for all of Tunisia’s children.
The United States and Tunisia both believe that all children have a right to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. Our countries both believe that education provides our children opportunities for betterment and development. And we believe that our children are precious, and should be protected from harm and danger. Through this project, children will be encouraged to continue their education and reach their potential. The project will assist in providing opportunities for vocational training to build a sustainable, productive future which contributes to the growth and strength of Tunisia. It will also advocate for stronger protections against all forms of hazardous labor for children.
It is in the interest of the United States to promote a stable, prosperous, and democratic Tunisia, which is why we support a broad spectrum of programs to shore up Tunisia’s security, encourage economic prosperity, and strengthen democracy and human rights. We are especially proud to support Tunisia’s efforts to protect children and help them grow into healthy, productive adults, and we agree with Tunisia that supporting Tunisian youth is a critically important way to ensure Tunisia’s future security, prosperity, and stability. Children who have the opportunity to achieve their full potential will become engaged and aware citizens. They will commit to strengthening Tunisia’s future, and will reject the empty nihilism of violence, extremism, and destruction. Children allowed the opportunity to obtain an education and fully prepare themselves for their future are the surest guarantee of future prosperity and peace. That is the future that both the United States and Tunisia would like to create.
Although the United States has an interest in supporting a stable, secure, and free Tunisia, we have taken great care to ensure that it is Tunisia’s priorities and Tunisian ideas that are leading the way. From its inception, this project was based on Tunisian efforts to improve the lives of children. The International Labor Organization has based all its programs on Tunisia’s National Action Plan to Combat Child Labor. It has also consulted Tunisian ministries, civil society, labor organizations, employers’ organizations, and subject-matter experts during all stages of the project. We believe the Tunisian values, ideas, and priorities that underlie the project will be the key to its enduring success.
This week, the United States Embassy is happy to welcome representatives from the International Labor Organization and the United States Department of Labor, who have traveled here to work with Tunisia’s Child Labor National Steering Committee on the formation and design of project activities. As I stand here this beautiful morning next to the lovely Mediterranean Sea in this very nice hotel, I would normally say it seems like pretty nice work to me, and I’m even a little envious. However, I’ve seen the agenda this week, and I know how much hard work is in store for all of you. But I also know the caliber of people dedicated to the task, I am fully confident that this week will be a fruitful and productive one for everyone here. The United States thanks you for your dedication, your passion, and the commitment that you bring to this work that is so critical to the future of your country, the region, and the world. We wish you all the best in your efforts, and we will continue to stand behind and support Tunisia’s journey toward security, prosperity, and democracy. Thank you.