Skip to content


International Labour Organisation

The establishment of ILO in 1919 was part of the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, and as such closely related to the notion of social justice as necessary for universal and lasting peace. Since 1946 a specialized UN agency and approaching its 100th anniversary, ILO is the oldest organization within the UN system. Since 1920 it has been headquartered in Geneva.
ILO focuses on the promotion of social justice and decent working conditions internationally through the monitoring of compliance with the international labour code of human rights and labour rights standards. This currently consists of 190 conventions and 202 non-binding recommendations. Ensuring that countries implement the international conventions on labour rights and standards, which they ratify, monitoring the application of these, and providing technical assistance in this field, is the core function of the ILO.

Support for governments and social partners’ initiatives of creating jobs, guaranteeing rights at work, including rights of workers, extending social protection and promoting social dialogue is the focus of ILO’s so-called Decent Work Agenda. This agenda has its base in the recognition of work as central to broader social and economic advancement and has four strategic pillars: job creation, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue, and gender equality as a crosscutting objective.

ILO differs from other specialized or subsidiary UN agencies, funds and programs in its tripartite structure of governance. Member states are thus represented at ILO meetings by governments, as well as by representatives of the social partners, workers and of employers. The governance structure of the organization includes a general conference – the International Labour Conference (ILC), a board – the Governing Body (GB), and a Secretariat – the International Labour Office.

The organization plays an important role not only in international social and economic cooperation, but also within the international human rights framework as the guardian of some of the basic international human rights instruments. The most prominent are the ILO eight core conventions, such as conventions 87 and 98, on freedom of association and collective bargaining, respectively. Country reporting, assessments of reports and the organization’s complaints procedures supplement other important UN human rights instruments in areas pertaining to labour standards, workers’ rights and social security, thus emphasizing ILO’s role in respect of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

As the key international agency in the world of work, ILO is a natural partner for Denmark in development assistance. In 2020-22, Denmark plans to support ILO with voluntary funding of DKK 60 million in total for its Program of Work as well as another DKK 15 million for its Decent Work Country Programs in Africa. This softly earmarked funding has a particular focus on creating high-quality apprenticeship systems and programmes in Mali, Morocco and Tanzania. The voluntary contribution is complemented by Denmark’s annual membership contribution, in 2020 USD 2.190.073, about DKK 14.5 million.

Read more about Denmark’s collaboration with ILO in the Danish Organization Strategy for ILO here 

Further information is available on:

Updated June 2020