The International Labour Organization (ILO) was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.
The only tripartite U.N. agency, the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. The unique tripartite structure of the ILO gives an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes.
The ILO accomplishes its work through three main bodies which comprise governments', employers' and workers' representatives:
- the International Labour Conference;
- the Governing body; and
- the International Labour Office.
The work of the Governing Body and of the Office is aided by tripartite committees covering major industries. It is also supported by committees of experts on such matters as vocational training, management development, occupational safety and health, industrial relations, workers’ education, and special problems of women and young workers.
Since the early 1950s, the ILO has been providing technical cooperation to countries on all continents and at all stages of economic development. Projects are implemented through close cooperation between recipient countries, donors, and the ILO, which maintains a network of country offices worldwide. Additionally, the ILO regularly examines the application of international labour standards in member states and points out areas where they could be better applied. If there are any problems in the application of standards, the ILO seeks to assist countries through social dialogue and technical assistance.
With over 50 years of experience in development cooperation on all continents and at all stages of development, the ILO today has over 600 programmes and projects in more than 100 countries – with the support of 120 development partners.