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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 189 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 programmes 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 within the international human rights framework as the guardian of some of the basic international human rights instruments, not least 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.

In the years to come, ILO will be challenged by the need to address employment and rights of workers in the Post-2015 framework, and ensure decent labour standards within the informal economy of especially developing countries. At the same time, the organization is expected to continue its internal reform process.

Denmark supports ILO with voluntary funding as ILO’s Decent Work Agenda is a key component in poverty alleviation and securing decent working conditions and social justice, inter alia through the promotion of rights of workers and enterprises’ Corporate Social Responsibility. In an increasingly globalized world ILO’s comprehensive approach to the value chains of production across industries and countries is highly needed for global quality job creation, including green jobs.
ILO’s Budget 2014: USD 1.3 billion

Denmark’s contribution 2014: DKK 16.3 million (Ministry of Employment), DKK 78 million (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Director General: Guy Ryder

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

Further information is available on:

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark and Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General in Denmark, april 2014