International Labour Organisation

The International Labour Organizatino (or simply ILO) is the international body in charge of developing and enforcing global labor standards. It is the only "tripartite" United Nations organization that brings together government, employer, and worker leaders to cooperatively design policies and programs supporting decent work for all. The ILO has an advantage in combining "real world" knowledge regarding employment and work thanks to this unusual arrangement.

What is ILO Standards?

The ILO's standards are designed to guarantee equitable, secure, and dignified employment opportunities for all people around the world. Together, they protect freedom of association, the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of forced or compulsory labor, the prohibition of child labor, and the elimination of discrimination in regard to employment and occupation.

  • They are outlined in 189 conventions and treaties, eight of which the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work deems to be fundamental.

  • The ILO has significantly influenced global labor law.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) was established in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles, which put an end to World War I, to reflect the conviction that social fairness must be the foundation of any durable, universal peace. The ILO was elevated to the status of a specialized agency of the UN in 1946.

Convention of ILO

There are 190 codifications of international labor standards on the list of International Labour Organization conventions. Trade union, employer, and government officials negotiate tripartite agreements to create International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, which are then ratified at the annual International Labour Conference (ILC). Later, governments of member states ratify conventions and incorporate their provisions into domestic law.

The first Convention, passed in 1919, deals with the number of hours worked; the most current Convention, passed in 2019, deals with violence and harassment at work. Eight fundamental Conventions were outlined in the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which was adopted by the member states in 1998. Four of these Conventions prohibit child labor and forced labor, while the other four provide rights to collective bargaining, organizing, equal pay, and freedom from workplace discrimination.

The ILO keeps an eye on how the Conventions are being applied and makes observations about member state compliance, but there are no internal enforcement procedures for non-compliance or violations of the Conventions. The legal expertise of courts recognized by the relevant member nations determines whether a convention will be enforced.

Headquarters of ILO

The headquarters of the ILO are in Geneva, Switzerland. During the initial few months of its establishment in 1919, its offices were in London. However, in the summer of 1920, they relocated to Geneva. The initial office in Geneva was located in the structure that now serves as the International Committee of the Red Cross's headquarters and was formerly the Thudicum Boarding School on the Pregny hill in the Ariana estate.

As the company expanded, it moved to a specially constructed headquarters by the beaches of Lake Leman, which Georges Epitaux designed and opened in 1926. (currently the sear of the World Trade Organization). The Office briefly relocated to McGill University in Montreal, Canada, during the Second World War.

History of ILO

After World War I, the ILO was founded as a League of Nations institution.

  • It was created by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.

  • Before the organization was founded, its founders had made significant contributions to social thought and action.

  • In 1946, it was elevated to the status of the UN's first specialized agency.

  • The ILO has been crucial in advancing labor and human rights. It had maintained a prominent position for protecting labor rights during the 1930s Great Depression.

  • It was crucial to the process of decolonization and the defeat of apartheid in South Africa.

  • For its efforts to promote peace across classes and for other reasons, the organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.

Objectives of ILO

There are some objects of ILO-

  • Promote and implement norms, core concepts, and workplace rights.

  • Increase access to adequate jobs and income for both men and women

  • Increase the effectiveness and coverage of social protection for everyone,

  • Strengthen social dialogue and tripartism.

The ILO provides expertise and knowledge about the workplace that it has amassed over more than 90 years of responding to the needs of people all over the globe for decent employment, livelihoods, and dignity in support of its objectives. It benefits its three parts, as well as society at large, in a number of ways, such as:

  • Creation of global policies and initiatives to advance fundamental human rights, boost living and working conditions, and increase job possibilities

  • The development of global labor norms, supported by a special system to oversee their implementation.

  • To assist nations in effectively implementing these policies, a comprehensive program of international technical cooperation was developed and put into place in collaboration with stakeholders.

  • Activities in training, education, and research to advance each of these efforts


The first of the ILO's three main responsibilities is the establishment of international labor standards, known as conventions and recommendations, for member nations to implement. Guidelines on child labor, women's worker protection, work hours, paid time off, labor inspection, career counseling and training, social security protection, worker housing, occupational health and safety, maritime work conditions, and protection of migrant workers are all included in the Conventions and Recommendations.


Q1. What does the international Labour organization work?

Ans. With the belief that labor peace is crucial to prosperity, the International Labor Organization (ILO) is committed to advancing social fairness and widely acknowledged human and labor rights.

Q2. How many countries are the members of ILO?

Ans. There are 187 members of the ILO, including the Cook Islands, and 186 of the 193 UN members. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and it has about 40 field offices around the world. It has employees in 107 countries totaling 3,381 people, 1,698 of whom are employed under programs and initiatives for technical collaboration.

Q3. Is India a member of ILO?

Ans. Yes, India is a member of ILO.

Surprisingly, India is a founder member of the International Labour Organization, (since 1919). The membership of the ILO ensures the member states growth of tripartite system among the Member countries.

Q4. What are the main bodies of the ILO?

Ans. The ILO is composed of three main bodies, namely:

  • The General Conference of representatives of member states (the "International Labour Conference");

  • The Governing Body; and

  • The International Labour Office.

Updated on: 01-Feb-2023


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