International Labour Organisation (ILO)

International Labour Organization (ILO), the specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) dedicated to improving labour conditions and living standards throughout the world. Established in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League of Nations, the ILO became the first affiliated specialized agency of the United Nations in 1946. 185 of the 193 UN member states are members of the ILO.

In 1969, the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving peace among classes, pursuing justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to other developing nations.

The ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international rules; however, it does not impose sanctions on governments.

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The International Labour Organization head quartered is in Geneva, Switzerland, composed of the permanent Secretariat and professional staff, handles day-to-day operations under the supervision of an appointed director general.

The International Labour Organization has a tripartite governing structure – representing governments, employers, and workers. The rationale behind the tripartite structure is the creation of free and open debate among governments and social partners.

The ILO secretariat is referred to as the International Labour Office.

The Governing body is composed of 28 government representatives, 14 workers’ representatives, and 14 employers’ representatives.

Ten of the government seats are held by member states that are nations of “chief industrial importance,” as first considered by an “impartial committee.” The nations are Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. The terms of office are three years.

The ILO organizes the International Labour Conference in Geneva every year in June, where conventions and recommendations are crafted and adopted. Also known as the parliament of Labour, the conference also makes decisions about the ILO’s general policy, work programme and budget.

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International Labour Conference adopted the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This declaration contains four fundamental policies:

  • The right of workers to associate freely and bargain collectively
  • The end of forced and compulsory labour
  • The end of child labour
  • The end of unfair discrimination among workers

The ILO was established as an agency of the League of Nations following World War I, its founders had made great strides in social thought and action before 1919. The core members all knew one another from earlier private professional and ideological networks, in which they exchanged knowledge, experiences, and ideas on social policy.

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