Understanding the UN – the International Labour Organisation

th  The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was founded in 1919, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialised agency of the UN in 1946. Its headquarters are in Geneva.

The ILO promotes rights at work, encourages decent employment opportunities, enhances social protection and strengthens social dialogue. Its role is to devise and supervise international labour standards ensuring those standards are respected globally. Uniquely, it brings together and gives equal voice to governments, employers’ representatives and workers’ organisations.

The impact of the ILO is exemplified by three specific activities. In 2011, in an attempt to regulate labour laws for and to give legal status to the 53 million domestic workers worldwide, the International Labour Conference (ILC) adopted the Domestic Workers Convention (C189), now ratified by 17 States.

In 2014, the ILC approved the Protocol on the Forced Labour Convention supporting the  ILO Convention in the global fight against forced labour to outlaw people-trafficking and modern slavery and to keep abreast of forced labour practices. Further, Aung San Suu Kyi, herself recognised ILO’s involvement in reduction of forced labour while supporting the democracy movement in Myanmar.

The good news stories of international labour are evidenced by reduction in poverty and increased social protection together with improved services, productivity, occupational security and workplace health while reducing negative environmental impacts. However, high unemployment especially among youth, and growing inequalities between rich and poor are leading to lack of confidence in governments, and causing social unrest. Further, globalisation, automation of industry, transition to green jobs, and discrimination against women in the workplace are continuing challenges.

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