Origins and Background
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was established by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as an autonomous institution associated with the League of Nations. In 1946, the ILO became the UNs first specialized agency. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1969 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
goals are to improve working and living conditions, promote and realize
human rights at work, and enhance employment opportunities. The preamble
of its Constitution declares that universal and lasting peace can be based
only on social justice. In 1994 the International Labour Conference
meeting in Philadelphia (United States) adopted the Declaration of
Philadelphia, now an annex to the Constitution, which proclaims the right
of all human beings to
pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in
conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal
opportunity. It states that poverty
anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere.
ILO differs from other organizations of the UN system because of its tripartite structure. Although ILO is an intergovernmental organization, workers and employers participate directly in formulating ILO policy and in decision making through the Governing Body (the executive council) and the International Labour Conference (the general assembly). These two bodies, together with the International Labour Office, the organizations permanent secretariat, operational headquarters, research centre and publishing house, make up the ILO.
The International Labour Conference has universal country membership and meets annually. The conference provides a world forum for discussions of social and labour problems, sets international labour standards, and elects the Governing Body of the International Labour Office. Every two years, the conference adopts the ILOs biennial work programme and budget, which is financed by Member States.
For its part, ILO has 174 Member States. Each national delegation to the International Labour Conference has four members: two government representatives, one workers delegate and one employers delegate.
Between conferences, the work of the ILO is guided by the Governing Body, which has 28 government members, 14 members representing workers and 14 members representing employers. It elects and advises the Director-General and the various ILO committees and commissions. Since March 1999, the Director-General of the International Labour Office is Juan Somavνa (Chile).
ILO headquarters are in Geneva and there are regional offices in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and the Arab States, plus liaison and field offices and multidisciplinary advisory teams in more than 40 countries. ILO employs around 1,800 staff of about 115 nationalities, plus some 500 staff serving on technical cooperation programmes.
The 1998-1999 budget is around US$481 million. ILO technical cooperation expenditures (US$93.7 million in 1998) are financed from extrabudgetary resources and from the ILO regular budget for specific types of technical assistance. The major sources of extrabudgetary financing are contributions from multilateral and bilateral donors, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and trust fund arrangements.
The primary goal of the ILO today is to promote opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.
Decent work is the converging focus of all its four strategic objectives at the turn of the century. These are to: promote and realize fundamental principles and rights at work, create greater opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment and income, enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all, and strengthen tripartism and social dialogue. Under each strategic objective, a number of international focus (InFocus) programmes of high priority will concentrate and integrate activities already underway, while responding to new needs and demands. Three broad policy areas deserve particular emphasis. These are the mainstreaming of development and gender in all ILO activities, and making enterprise a focus of ILO attention.
The ILO has actively contributed to major UN conferences, particularly those held in Copenhagen, Cairo and Beijing, and follow-up activities. Within the UN system, the ILO has to ensure effective follow-up to the 1995 World Summit for Social Development at the Special Session of the General Assembly, which will take place in Geneva in June 2000. The ILO has had a central role in promoting the summits commitment on employment within the UN system. It coordinated the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) Task Force on Full Employment and Sustainable Livelihoods. It undertook country employment policy reviews in all regions and held regional conferences, the results of which will be submitted to an ILO International Consultation concerning follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development, held in November 1999. The outcome of this consultation provides the basis for the ILOs contribution to the special session of the General Assembly. The ILO has also engaged in support of the other commitments made at the summit, particularly concerning poverty eradication, social integration and gender equality. These are important concerns, not merely in terms of the ILOs own mandate, but also in terms of generating a wider consensus on the social goals of adjustment and development. They might require greater ILO involvement in ECOSOC, particularly in its Commission on the Status of Women and Commission on Social Development.
Many of the population and development issues incorporated in the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) are also major concerns for the ILO. A number of the international labour standards adopted over the years and promoted by ILO are directly relevant to objectives of the ICPD. They cover the following issues: elimination of inequalities between men and women in education, skill development and employment; protection of maternity for women workers; improving the compatibility between labour force participation and parental responsibilities; safeguarding rights of international migrant workers; elimination of child labour; social security systems that take into account the increasing proportions of elderly people in certain countries; and the importance of investment in human resources. The ILO is involved in active interaction with UNFPA and sister UN agencies in implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, being in the forefront in analysing linkages between population and labour market issues. It has also assisted governments in the development and implementation of national population policies and programmes. The ILO undertakes regular advocacy activities to sensitize its constituents to the importance of population in development policies and programmes. The ILO was lead agency for the UN Working Group on International Migration and for the organization of a Technical Symposium on International Migration and Development (1998). Considering the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on society and especially decimation of the workforce, ILO work continues in this area. A recent ILO publication on HIV/AIDS and employment deals with legislative and regulatory frameworks, enterprise practices and recommendations for practical strategies.
Promotion of women workers rights and equality between men and women in the world of work has always been an integral part of the ILOs core mandate. The fundamental principle of equality of opportunities and treatment between women and men is approached by the ILO as a matter of human rights, social justice and of sustainable development. A number of ILO conventions have special relevance to women workers, covering areas of maternity protection, equal pay for work of equal value, equality of opportunity and treatment in employment, equal access to vocational training, family responsibilities, and part-time and home work. Programmes have been carried out to promote gender equality in areas of poverty eradication, employment generation, working conditions, social protection, micro-enterprises, Export Processing Zones, and women in management. At its June 1999 session, the International Labour Conference addressed the issue of revision of the Maternity Protection (Revised) Convention, 1952 (No. 103), and Recommendation, 1952 (No. 95).
A gender perspective is an imperative for the ILO, not only for reasons of equity and fairness but also because it is part of the very substance of the ILOs work today, taking into account the role of gender perspectives in defining labour markets. The Director-General has recently announced a new commitment to an integrated gender policy. This requires action at three levels in the ILO:
-- at the political level, to achieve far greater representation of women in the tripartite decision-making structures of the organization, within governments and in employers and workers organizations;
-- at technical level, to mainstream gender considerations in all ILO programmes and activities; and
-- at the institutional level, to implement gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation systems, strengthen the focal point system and appropriate training and personnel policies that enhance career opportunities for women.
The ILO has been actively involved in effective implementation of the Plan for Action adopted at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women and its follow-up.
Since the beginning, ILO has been involved in elaborating and adopting international labour standards. In addition to standards protecting and improving labour and working conditions, there are core standards to guarantee basic human rights, in particular freedom of association and collective bargaining, the abolition of forced labour and child labour, and elimination of discrimination in employment.
Other standards cover the entire range of work-related issues such as minimum wages, labour administration, industrial relations, employment policy, working conditions, social security, occupational safety and health, employment of women, and employment of migrant workers.
Standards take the form of international conventions and recommendations. Conventions are subject to ratification by Member States, upon which governments are obliged to apply them in national law and practice. Recommendations, on the other hand, are not binding. They provide guidelines for national practice. From 1919 to 1999, 182 conventions and 190 recommendations were adopted. In recent years the organization has stepped up its efforts to revise old conventions taking into account recent developments, and the possibility of abrogating obsolete conventions now exists.
An advanced supervisory system exists to ensure that standards are applied. These procedures include a review by a committee of independent experts and by the organizations tripartite bodies of government reports on the application of ratified conventions and of action taken on recommendations. Each year, the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations examines more than 2,700 reports and makes 1,500 comments, which are then taken up by a standing committee of the conference. Special machinery exists to examine complaints of non-observance of ratified conventions, and the principles of freedom of association. Employers and workers organizations play a full role in the procedures.
ILO has also stepped up its assistance to Member States in this field through direct contact and consultative missions. It also provides direct technical assistance; organizes seminars, training and study courses; and disseminates information on international labour standards.
Promoting Basic Principles and Rights
Following the Social Summit, ILO launched an intensive campaign in 1995 among its members to increase the number of ratifications of seven conventions in which the core standards are enshrined. Since then more than 140 new ratifications have been registered; the campaign to achieve universal ratification will continue. Fifty-two countries have ratified all seven core conventions. The new Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, which calls for immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency, was unanimously adopted in June 1999. It will figure among the list of core ILO conventions.
In 1998 the International Labour Conference adopted a solemn Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up. The impetus for the declaration stemmed from concerns in the international community over the possible social consequences of globalization, expressed in particular at the Social Summit. Adoption of the declaration committed the Member States to respect the basic principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining, abolition of forced labour and child labour, and elimination of discrimination in employment, enshrined in the ILO Constitution and developed in the core conventions. The declaration underlines that all member countries have an obligation to respect these fundamental principles, whether or not they have ratified the relevant conventions. It includes provision for follow-up, which will seek to encourage efforts made by the members to promote the fundamental principles and rights, including an annual review of the situation in Member States that have not ratified all relevant conventions, and an annual global report. The report will assess overall trends and effectiveness of the organizations technical support, and it will provide the basis for establishing action plans to assist all Member States in their efforts.
Technical Cooperation Activities
Standard-setting is supported by a major programme of technical cooperation designed to help ILO constituents to raise living standards and make full productive use of human resources. Main fields of action are employment creation, including projects to mitigate the social cost of economic restructuring, vocational training, enterprise and cooperative development, conditions of work and the working environment, labour administration, labour relations and social security. Special attention has been given to gender issues and to the elimination of child labour.
The ILO works actively with governments to set up and implement technical cooperation activities. However, ILO operational activities now have more tripartite participation, which increasingly involve not only government agencies but also workers and employers organizations in project preparation and implementation. Under a policy of active partnership with its constituents, the ILO has established 16 multidisciplinary teams of technical specialists to provide rapid assistance. The major share of expenditure on technical cooperation goes to Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific, the Americas, Europe and the Arab States.
In 1999 the International Labour Conference undertook a major review of the ILOs technical cooperation programme and adopted a resolution with conclusions that will guide the office in its future conception and management of technical cooperation. The debate at the conference pointed above all to the importance of taking into account the concerns of each of the tripartite constituents without detracting from the overall unity and coherence of the ILOs action. It reaffirmed the need to focus technical cooperation activities on the four strategic objectives and the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which establish a clear framework for future technical cooperation. The debate also emphasized the importance of supporting and developing the institutional capacity of the ILOs constituents, especially in terms of expertise and knowledge, and enriching the contribution of tripartism to all aspects of technical cooperation. It also underlined the need to integrate technical cooperation into all ILO programmes, and the importance of an effective management structure for that purpose. The need for strengthening partnerships with the UN system and the Bretton Woods Institutions was also highlighted.
Education, Research and Information Activities
Research and documentation also underpin ILOs standard-setting and operational work and involve many research programmes, as well as the production and distribution of a considerable body of publications.
The ILO compiles information on social conditions in every country of the world. For example, information on national and international labour legislation is included in the NATLEX and ILOLEX databases and published on the Internet.
The International Labour Office publishes the results of research on subjects of importance to policy makers and other individuals concerned with the changing nature of work and employment. The World Employment Report and World Labour Report, in English, French and Spanish, provide up-to-date information and analyses on significant labour and employment issues and trends. The four-volume 4th edition of the ILO Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety (also on CD-ROM) is a landmark reference providing comprehensive coverage of the core and allied fields encompassing occupational health and safety.
The ILO publishes statistical, legal and bibliographical materials in both printed and interactive electronic form. The Yearbook of Labour Statistics, a comprehensive survey of annual data from all parts of the world, covers the economically active population, employment, unemployment, hours of work and consumer prices. Key Indicators of the Labour Market (KILM) provides analyses of data from the yearbook and other international references and is available both in print version and CD-ROM.
The International Labour Review--the ILOs flagship journal--features current policy analysis on employment and labour issues worldwide; it is published quarterly in English, French and Spanish. The ILO also publishes the quarterly Labour Education in English, French and Spanish, destined particularly for trade union organizations and labour research institutions. The World of Work magazine, in 14 languages, is aimed chiefly at the organizations constituents and all those who follow developments in the world of work.
ILO research is designed to throw new light on labour problems, suggest ways of solving them and indicate means by which these solutions can be put into effect. It is also used in preparing reports for consideration by the International Labour Conference and for other specialized meetings and conferences. Reports prepared for the annual conference, for the four ILO regional meetings covering Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe, and for sectoral and other meetings can be obtained from ILOs publications service.
The role of the International Institute for Labour Studies, set up by ILO in Geneva in 1960, is to promote policy research and public discussions on emerging issues of concern to the ILO and its constituents. The institute provides a forum for informal dialogue between the ILOs tripartite constituents and the worlds academic community and other public opinion-makers. Its research networks and outcomes are a catalyst for future programme development. The institute also provides educational programmes to complement the ILOs training activities and assists ILO constituents in developing their national institutional capacities for research and policy analysis. The new system of strategic programming, combined with the office-wide research policy, will provide new opportunities to ensure better utilization of the institutes capabilities for future ILO programme development.
Promotion of Employment and Human Resource Development
The main objective of ILO activities on employment and labour market policies is the strengthened capacity of ILO tripartite constituents in the design and implementation of national employment and labour market policies and programmes. This objective is achieved through policy research, advisory services, training, information dissemination and technical cooperation. The major work items are:
-- employment and labour market impact of regional integration policies of established regional groupings;
-- policy implications of the major changes in the global supply patterns of goods and services, especially on job loss and job creation due to the relocation or suppression of industrial subsectors and to technological developments;
-- review of experience of local economic development programmes to attract and retain outside investment;
-- policy measures to enhance contributions of employers and workers organizations to the design and implementation of structural adjustment programmes;
-- development of key indicators of the labour market project, which develops, maintains and disseminates 18 indicators for a wide range of countries;
-- preparation of guidelines on the compilation, analysis and dissemination of labour market information for the design of training and retraining programmes and employment policy; and
-- labour market policies for transition economies, especially the assessment of active labour market policies and their role in facilitating changes to structural adjustment.
Promoting employment concerns all sectors of industry and agriculture in the formal economy. However, there is particular emphasis on technical cooperation projects aimed at either increasing direct employment and income in the rural and informal sectors or providing services and assistance to micro-enterprises.
The development of human resources is another area of concern to ILO. The objectives of its training programmes are:
-- strengthen the capacity of training systems to respond rapidly to changing labour market demands resulting from technological change, structural adjustment, demographic trends or the transition to a market economy;
-- increase the cost-effectiveness of public sector training systems and develop more diversified sources of funding for them;
-- enhance opportunities for training, gainful employment, social integration and career development for special groups, particularly for women and disabled persons;
-- strengthen Member States capacity to take responsibility for and manage their own human resources development programmes, including related policy analysis and implementation;
-- strengthen the role of employers and workers organizations in human resources development policy formulation and programme implementation at the country and organization levels; and
-- assist countries in which the basic social and economic infrastructure has been destroyed and undertake skills and entrepreneurship training for countries emerging from armed conflict.
According to its statutes, the ILO Training Centre in Turin (Italy) provides training activities for the purpose of economic and social development in accordance with, and through, the promotion of international labour standards. The Turin Centre is an important instrument for delivery of ILO training programmes in the areas of employment, labour rights and development management. Training advisory services and projects are designed for people from both industrialized and developing countries, such as directors in charge of technical and vocational institutions, training officers engaged in technical and vocational activities, managers in private and public enterprises, trade union leaders, and technicians. In 1998 the centre received 6,500 participants from 160 countries in its courses. It is also serves the United Nations system as a whole since the UN Staff College, which provides training facilities to UN personnel and their national counterparts, is housed there.
Improvement of Working Conditions and Enhancing Social Protection
ILO action in the field of working conditions and environment is guided by the following principles:
-- work should take place in a safe and healthy environment;
-- conditions of work should be consistent with workers well-being and human dignity; and
-- work should offer real possibilities for personal achievement, self-fulfilment and service to society.
One of the ILOs major programmes is devoted to making work more humane by promoting the provision and extension of basic protection to all workers, eliminating child labour, combatting discrimination, and improving conditions of work and the working environment. To achieve its objectives, the organization follows a three-pronged strategy: advocacy, the setting and promotion of international labour standards, and direct technical assistance.
The objective of the ILOs work on child labour is to strengthen the capacity of its tripartite constituents and other relevant groups to take action to eliminate child labour, especially its worst forms, and to mobilize a worldwide movement against it. To achieve its objectives the organization works on many fronts: identification of new policy frontiers and means of action; promotion and development of relevant international labour standards; policy-oriented research; preparation of major reports; statistical work; and direct technical assistance through the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), which is the worlds largest technical cooperation programme in this field and is already operational in 60 countries. The programme, which continues to expand rapidly, is supported by many governments, employers and workers organizations and intergovernmental and voluntary organizations.
Another component of ILO activities seeks to increase the capacity of Member States to prevent occupational accidents and work-related diseases by improving the working environment. Emphasis is also placed on promoting the goal of basic protection for all workers in conformity with international labour law and creating worldwide awareness of the dimensions and consequences of work-related accidents, injuries and diseases. The ILO helps Member States in formulating, evaluating and updating national policies and programmes, establishing occupational safety and health infrastructures, and providing fora for exchange of experience and information. Direct technical assistance is being expanded through the ILOs programme on safety and occupational health at work (OSH).
This programme is also designed to help Member States apply new information to OSH policies. The exchange of safety and health information takes place through the International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre. The programme also focuses on activities designed to provide essential minimum protection and progressive improvements in conditions of work and welfare facilities such as adoption of measures to provide constituents with traditional and innovative responses to concerns including working time, maternity protection, sexual harassment, violence at work, international labour migration and new threats to workers dignity arising from a hostile working environment.
The ILO has been the organization responsible for promoting social security since its foundation. The basic aim of social security is to provide the following guarantees:
-- maintain peoples livelihood by providing substitution benefits in the event of loss of income resulting either from temporary or permanent incapacity (through illness, accident, disability or old age), loss of employment or the death of the breadwinner; and
-- enable access to preventive and curative medical care and also rehabilitation.
Many of the ILOs international minimum standards concern social security and are periodically reviewed, updated and supplemented. The setting of these standards is based on major research programmes, the results of which are published in Cost of Social Security and in numerous specific studies. Standard-setting is supplemented by practical activities to help the constituents set up, expand, update and consolidate their social security systems and make them more effective.
Considerable attention is given to promoting equality of treatment between men and women and non-nationals and nationals in social security through bilateral and multilateral coordination of national legislation. The ILO has close relations with the International Social Security Association (ISSA). The present work programme of the ILO envisages a move from the concept of social security to a wider concept of social protection, which includes poverty alleviation programmes and reaching out to workers in informal sectors of national economies.
Development of Social Institutions
With respect to members legislation, labour relations and labour administration, ILO assists the tripartite constituents to strengthen social dialogue with a view to achieving greater economic efficiency and social justice. This involves: adaptation of labour law in Member States to encourage adjustment, through dialogue between social partners, of the employment relationship to changing realities of the market economy and globalization; the development of industrial relations systems that strengthen democracy through social dialogue and enable the social partners to participate in formulation and implementation of economic and industrial policies that are conducive to both social equity and enterprise efficiency; and establishment and upgrading of labour administration capable of implementing social policies and supporting economic development. ILO supports technical cooperation projects that help governments to review various aspects of their labour relations systems and their labour legislation.
In the tripartite context special attention is given to assistance to employers and workers organizations that belong to the ILO genuine constituency. The ILOs work includes a range of activities designed to assist in the establishment and development of representative, independent and democratic employers organizations able to play an active role as representative institutions in democratic societies. Similar programmes seek to assist in the development of representative, independent and democratic trade unions able to promote workers rights through effective participation in tripartite dialogue. Special emphasis is given to this type of work in developing and transitional countries. ILO programmes and activities duly reflect the employers and workers perspective as well as government perspectives. The ILO collaborates with employers and workers organizations in a variety of technical fields covering the areas of competence of these organizations, for example, industrial relations, occupational safety and health, employment, management development, and international labour standards. All employers and workers organizations in Member States have access to ILO services depending on the nature of the activities, the aims of the various projects and the existing delivery capacity of organizations. The majority of projects and activities are conducted through and with the most representative organizations in every country.
Throughout its activities, ILO seeks to promote employment, ensure training and retraining, improve living and working conditions and protect the safety and health of all workers. It also devotes time to labour and social problems in specific economic sectors and occupational categories. It was for this purpose that the ILO Governing Body created a system of sectoral meetings to deal with these issues. ILOs industrial specialists also liaise closely with government services and workers and employers organizations in the sectors concerned. This enables the organization to carry out research, prepare reports and studies, and provide technical advice on labour-related issues in specific sectors.
The International Labour Organization has a multifaceted relationship with the non-governmental sector due to its unique tripartite structure. That relationship involves:
-- integration of non-governmental social partners in the identity of the organization itself;
-- use of consultative status for non-governmental international organizations that meet certain criteria; and
-- collaboration at the operational level with a variety of international, national and local organizations.
As a tripartite organization, the ILO does not simply collaborate with NGOs but actually integrates sectors of civil society into its structure. This integration reflects a continuous and concerted international effort in which the representatives of workers and employers, enjoying equal status with those of governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic decision with a view to the promotion of the common welfare (Declaration of Philadelphia, I(d)). In the International Labour Conference, the supreme organ of the ILO, the employers and workers delegates (one employer and one worker for each member) and their advisers are chosen by Member States in agreement with the industrial organizations...which are most representative of employers or work people...in their respective countries (ILO Constitution, Article 3, paragraph 5).
The individual employer and worker representatives in the conference organize themselves into an Employers and Workers Group and (every three years) into an Employers and Workers Electoral College, responsible for electing the employer and worker members, respectively, of the ILO Governing Body. The Employers and Workers Groups of the Governing Body nominate the employers and workers representatives on the organizations various consultative bodies. The ILO decision-making process is based on full involvement of the government, employer and worker representatives. Numerous international labour conventions and recommendations adopted by the International Labour Conference provide for Member States to operate procedures that ensure effective consultation of workers and employers organizations or representatives of employers and workers on all matters concerning the activities of the International Labour Organization. These national level consultations complement those established at the international level.
In addition to the integration of national non-governmental social partners, the Constitution of the ILO also provides for consultative relations with recognized non-governmental international organizations, including international organizations of employers, workers, agriculturists and cooperatives. This constitutional provision has been put into effect with the establishment of three different categories of international non-governmental organizations. The first one applies to international NGOs with an important interest in a wide range of the ILOs activities, which are granted either general or regional consultative status (at present a total of eight and 16 organizations, respectively). Standing arrangements have been made for the participation of those enjoying general consultative status in all ILO meetings, and in regional meetings for those with regional consultative status.
A second category, the Special List of Non-Governmental International Organizations, was set up by the ILO Governing Body in 1956 with a view to establishing working relations with international NGOs other than employers and workers organizations that also shared the principles and objectives of the ILO Constitution and Declaration of Philadelphia. The participation of NGOs in this category depends on their demonstrated interest in the ILOs programme of meetings and activities. There are currently more than 150 NGOs on the special list, covering a wide variety of fields such as promotion of human rights, poverty alleviation, social security, professional rehabilitation, gender issues and youth matters.
In a third category, the ILO Governing Body extends invitations to international NGOs that meet certain established criteria to attend different ILO meetings for which they have demonstrated a particular interest.
Collaboration with the Non-Governmental Sector at the Operational
Along with the relationships with its non-governmental social partners and international NGOs in the various categories described above, the ILO collaborates at the operational level with many other civil society organizations. Among these are local, national and regional organizations such as professional associations, cooperatives, village development committees, water users committees, rural or urban credit groups, local and national development or human rights NGOs, indigenous community organizations, and networks of homeworkers, especially women. All these organizations are involved in ILO technical cooperation activities. To the extent possible, the ILO seeks to ensure tripartite involvement, or involvement of both social partners, in the implementation of its activities.
In selecting such organizations for development cooperation, preference is usually given to those with a relatively long experience in the geographic area or thematic field for which support is sought, and to those that enjoy the trust of identified beneficiaries and can relate to other social actors, including the government and/or local authorities. Relationships have been established with a wide range of organizations including advocacy, development and human rights organizations. They can implement tasks and activities subcontracted to them by the ILO, and they can also be recipients of aid and technical assistance provided by the ILO through, for example, training activities or other advisory services aimed at strengthening their capacity to further ILO objectives. Among the ILO technical cooperation programmes with active non-governmental sector involvement are those dealing with the elimination of child labour, poverty alleviation and informal-sector initiatives, and employment creation through promotion of enterprise development, particularly at micro and small enterprise levels, and cooperatives.
Following are the basic provisions covering relations with NGOs.
Article 12, paragraph 3, of the Constitution: The International
Labour Organization may make suitable arrangements for such consultation
as it may think desirable with recognized non-governmental international
organizations, including international organizations of employers,
workers, agriculturalists and cooperators.
Article 2, paragraph 3 (j) of the Standing Orders of the
Conference, regulating the right of admission to sittings, refers to representatives
of non-governmental international organizations with which it has been
decided to establish consultative relationships and with which standing
arrangements for such representation have been made and representatives of
other non-governmental international organizations which have been invited
by the Governing Body to be represented at the Conference.
Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Standing Orders of the Conference:
Requests from non-governmental international organizations for an
invitation to be represented at the Conference shall be made in writing to
the Director-General of the International Labour Office and shall reach
him at least one month before the opening of the session of the
Conference. Such requests shall be referred to the Governing Body for
decision in accordance with criteria established by the Governing Body.
Other provisions of the Conference Standing Orders that concern NGOs are found in Article 14, paragraph 10, and Article 56, paragraph 9.
To be represented at a session of the International Labour Conference and other ILO meetings, non-governmental international organizations require an invitation, and they must satisfy the criteria and adhere to the procedure set out below.
The NGO requesting an invitation should:
-- demonstrate the international nature of its composition and activities, and in this connection it should be represented or have affiliates in a considerable number of countries;
-- have aims and objectives in harmony with the spirit, aims and principles of ILOs Constitution and the Declaration of Philadelphia;
-- have formally expressed an interest--clearly defined and supported by its statutes and by explicit reference to its own activities--in at least one of the items on the agenda of the conference session to which it requests to be invited, and these details should be supplied with the request for an invitation; and
-- have made its request in accordance with the procedure set out in the Standing Orders of the Conference.
Requests by NGOs for invitations to ILO meetings other than the International Labour Conference are considered in light of the relevant rules and standing orders governing those meetings. Requests must be approved by the ILOs Governing Body. NGOs wishing to be observers at ILO meetings should, therefore, submit their requests to the Director-General no later than one month before the session of the Governing Body preceding the meeting for which a request is being made.
Admission to the Special List
The aims of organizations requesting admission to the Special List should be in harmony with the spirit, aims and principles of the ILO Constitution and the Declaration of Philadelphia. Length of existence, membership, geographical coverage of the organization, its practical achievements and the international nature of its activities constitute the main criteria for such admission. A further requirement is that the organization have an evident interest in at least one of the fields of activity of the ILO. The fact that an organization has already been granted official status with the Economic and Social Council, or a specialized agency of the United Nations, is relevant but does not necessarily imply inclusion in the Special List of the ILO.
Any non-governmental international organization wishing to be admitted to the Special List is required to forward to the Director-General in one of the working languages of the ILO a copy of its statutes, a list of the names and addresses of its officers, information regarding its composition and the aggregate membership of the national organizations affiliated to it, and a copy of its latest annual report or detailed and verifiable information about its activities.
Maria Ducci, Director, Bureau for External Relations and Partnerships, ILO, 4 route des Morillons, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/799 6565, fax +41-22/799 7146 or Evgueni Davydov, Bureau for External Relations and Partnerships, ILO, 4 route des Morillons, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/799 7628, fax +41-22/799 7146, website (www.ilo.org).