International labour organization

about the organisation

International Labour Organization is a specialized agency which is dedicated to advancing opportunities for men and women. This is done in order to achieve descent and productive work in the conditions of freedom, security, equity and human dignity. It mainly aims at the following:

  • Promote rights at work
  • Develop social protection
  • Promote descent employment opportunities
  • Strengthen the exchange of ideas in handling work related issues

origin and making of the organization

International Labour Organization was established in 1919 as an agency of League of Nations, as a part of Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. It was created to reflect a belief that widespread and long-lasting peace can be attained only based on social justice. The constitution was drafted by the labour Commission set up by the Peace Conference .The Commission was lead by Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labour in United States. This resulted in Tripartite organization which brought together representatives of employers, governments and workers in their respective administrative bodies. The idea within the International Association for labour Legislation dealt with labour issues and was lead by Robert Owen of Wales and Daniel Legrand of France.

The main motivating force for ILO's establishment arose from security, political, humanitarian and economic considerations. The social justice in securing peace was always given importance keeping in mind the exploitation of the various workers in the industrializing nations of that period. Along with this the realization of the fact that there is a need to obtain similar working conditions in the countries to compete in the market was also realized.


Since early days itself the international labour organization has been putting effort to make ample and efficient contribution to the world. The first Labour conference was held on October1919, in Washington. The conference highlighted on:

  • Work in the industry
  • Maternity protection
  • Unemployment
  • Minimum age
  • Night work for men and women in the industry

However the pace of the early stage slowed down as the budget was very high and the reports were very critical. Eventually a committee of experts worked as a supervisory system on the various applications of the ISO standards. This committee today is composed of independent, jurists accountable for investigating the reports and presenting their own reports on them each year in the conference.


The Great Depression resulted in massive unemployment in 1932.The United States became member of the International Labour Organization even though they weren't a part of the League Of Nation they realized that to handle labor issues it had to have international 1939, after Second World War American John Winant took over ILO and he shifted the headquarter temporarily to Montreal for safety reasons. He was followed by Edward Phelan, Ireland, who played a very important role and had helped write the constitution. In 1946, the newly formed United Nations made the ILO a specialized agency. Freedom of association and the right to organize was adopted by the ILO in 1948.


With the new Director General-David Morse from America, the organization took a global character as the number of members doubled, the budged increased by about five times and the officials quadrupled. There was an international study of labour and International Training Center established. From 1970-73 the organization made further advancements in the various mechanisms for supervising their methods specially the right to organize and freedom of association. By 1989,the importance of ILO had reached a large number of developing countries who started believing that social justice should be attained along with International economic and social policies.In1999,Director general Juan Somavia, emphasized on the significance of decent work and making it a strategic international goal and promoting fair globalization. He also believed and adopted the need to reduce poverty by poverty alleviation methods.

constituents of the organization

The international Labour Organization unlike other United nation agencies has a tripartite governing structure which represents governments, employers and workers. The governing Body of the ILO is the executive of International labour Office. This body takes the decisions on ILO policy and decides the program of the International Labour Conference, adopts the budget and the draft program me of the organization. Every year in Geneva International Labour Conference is organized where the recommendations and conventions are created and adopted. One of the main objectives of ILO is to set International Labour Standards through the creation of conventions and recommendations which covers a large area of topics and issues such as child labour, night work, discrimination etc.

principles of the organization

The main aim of the International Labour Organization is to promote opportunities for both men and women to be able to achieve descent and productive work in state of freedom, security, human dignity and equity. Descent works includes the various aspirations of people in their working lives. Their aspiration to rights, family stability, fairness and gender equality, voice and recognition. It has basic four strategies:

  • Fundamental beliefs and rights at work and international labor standards
  • Income and employment opportunities
  • Social security and protection
  • Social discussion and tripartism

All these objectives are applicable for all workers irrespective of their gender, in both formal and informal economies, in factories, offices, home or wherever.

Descent work gives a lot of importance to reducing poverty to as to attain equity and sustainable development. The ILO is looking forward to develop agendas for the community of work and mobilize their given resource in a direction so as to reduce and eradicate poverty. It also aims at a stable framework in order to achieve its set targets and for global development.

The ILO defines the targets and priorities within the national development frameworks and develops programmers to tackle the deficits of the descent works. It encourages tripartism within the members by promoting social dialogue to help plan and implement national policies. A social dialogue as defined by ILO includes all kinds of negotiations, exchange of information and consultation between or amongst the various representatives of the workers, employers and government. An effective social dialogue depends on:

  • Respect for basic rights of freedom of association and cooperative bargaining
  • Strong, independent workers' and employers' organization with practical capacity and knowledge.
  • Political will and obligation to engage in social dialogue
  • ppropriate institutional support

In this process the ILO helps the government, employers and workers' organization to attain sound labour relations and adopt labour laws so as to meet the changing economic and social needs and to develop the labour administration.

The International Labour Organization has been growing with respect to its number of member countries. A large number of Developing countries are benefiting from its principles. Its impact has made these countries overcome a number of issues-social as well as political. Alarming issues like poverty, unemployment and forced labor are reduced to a large extent by creating awareness, forming policies and their proper implementation by the organization.


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