International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization (ILO) was founded in 1919, its Constitution forming part of the Treaty of Versailles. The ILO became the first specialised agency of the UN in 1946.


The ILO is the only ‘tripartite’ UN agency. It brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers to jointly shape policies and programmes. This unique arrangement gives the ILO an edge in incorporating ‘real world’ knowledge about employment and work.

The ILO is devoted to advancing opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Its main aims are to:

  • Promote rights at work
  • Encourage decent employment opportunities
  • Enhance social protection
  • Strengthen dialogue in handling work-related issues.

The ILO helps advance the creation of decent jobs and the kinds of economic and working conditions that give working people and business people a stake in lasting peace, prosperity and progress.

International Labour Conference
The International Labour Conference meets each year to adopt and oversee compliance with international labour standards, establish the Organization’s budget and elect Governing Body members. Since 1919, the Conference has served as a major international forum for debate on social and labour questions of worldwide importance.

Governing Body
The Governing Body is the executive body of the International Labour Office (the ILO’s permanent secretariat). It meets three times a year (March, June and November) and takes decisions on ILO policy, the International Labour Conference agenda and the Organization’s draft programme and budget for submission to the Conference, and elects the Director-General.

International Labour Office
The International Labour Office is the focal point of ILO activities, which are carried out under the scrutiny of the Governing Body and leadership of the Director-General. The Office employs more than 2,500 people in Geneva and 40 field offices around the world.

Each of the ILO’s 183 Member States has the right to send four delegates to the Conference: two from government and one each representing workers and employers, each of whom may speak and vote independently.

The ILO has four principle strategic objectives:

  • to promote and realize standards and fundamental principles and rights at work;
  • to create greater opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment;
  • to enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all;
  • to strengthen tripartism and social dialogue.

These objectives are realized in a number of ways:

  • formulation of international policies and programmes to promote basic human rights, improve working and living conditions, and enhance employment opportunities;
  • creation of international labour standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations, backed by a unique system to supervise their application;
  • an extensive programme of international technical cooperation;
  • training, education, research, and publishing activities to help advance all of these efforts.

Leave a Reply