The International Labor Organization (ILO) is one of the agencies of the UN which has the mandate of dealing primarily with issues touching on labor such as labor standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all. Currently, the organization has membership of 186 states out of the total 193 states who are members of the UN. The International Labor Organization records complaints against countries or entities that violate international labor laws and does not impose sanctions on the government. The organization was formed in 1919 as an agency of the League of Nations just after the WWII. The headquarters of the organization is in Geneva, Switzerland.
The International Labor Organization, unlike other specialized agencies of the UN, has a tripartite governing system with each representing the employers, the government, and the workers. This structure makes the ILO a unique agency and the reason for this is to create a free and open platform for deliberation among the social partners and the governments of its 186 member countries. The ILO secretariat is often known as the International Labor Office, and a country which is a member of the UN could also be a member of ILO through communication to the Director-General informing of its membership to the United Nations. The general conference of the ILO could also admit countries as members.
International Labor Conference
Every year in the month of June all member countries of the ILO meet for the conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Each member country is represented at the conference by a delegation which consists of two government delegates, a worker delegate, and an employer delegate with their respective advisors. The worker and employer delegates are nominated from the most representative national organization of workers and employers. All delegates are free to express themselves and vote as they wish. It is not uncommon for the employer and worker to delegate to vote against the government representatives or even against each other. This type of diversity does not hamper decision-making or adopting a decision by the majority or even in some cases unanimously. The representatives of the government are mostly the cabinet ministers heading labor affairs and related ministries in their respective governments.
Main Bodies of the ILO
The ILO executes its mandate through its main bodies made up representatives of the government, employers, and the workers. The International Labor Conference sets the broad policies and international labor standards of the ILO and they meet every year in Geneva. The International Labor Conference is commonly known as the Parliament of the Labor. The conference is a platform to discuss key labor questions and social issues. The second main body is the governing body which serve as the ILO’s executive council and they meet in Geneva three times in a year. The organ is charged with taking the decisions of the organization’s policy, establishing the budget, and the program which are subsequently submitted to the conference to be adopted. The third organ of the organization is the labor office which is the ILO’s permanent secretariat and is the pivotal point of all the general accomplishments of the organization which it prepares with close coordination with the governing body under the leadership of the Director General.
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