About us

ILO in the Arab States

As a specialised United Nations agency, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) works to promote social justice and internationally recognised human and labour rights. As the only tripartite UN agency, the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers to promote decent work in different parts of the world, as well as develop labour standards and policies.

Since 1976, the ILO Regional Office for Arab States (ILO ROAS) has worked to advance the ILO’s core values and mission in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic , the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The ILO ROAS also maintains a local presence in Qatar, Jordan and Yemen, as well as representative offices in Kuwait and Jerusalem. A number of Arab countries in North Africa -  Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco - are covered by the ILO’s Regional Office for Africa.

Mission and Objectives

The primary mission of ILO ROAS is to promote social justice, decent work and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development across the Arab States. It implements innovative programmes guided by the four pillars of the Decent Work Agenda: employment creation and enterprise development, social protection, standards and rights at work, and social dialogue.

Through strategic partnerships with national, regional and international actors, the ILO ensures an inclusive and participatory approach to programme development. Together with our tripartite partners – governments, workers and employers – the ILO ROAS works to foster social justice and decent work opportunities through sustainable enterprises, higher productivity, and growth with equity.

One of the key vehicles the ILO uses to implement its decent work agenda and to deliver support to countries is the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP). DWCPs have two basic objectives, promoting decent work as a key component of national development strategies; and organising ILO knowledge, instruments, advocacy and cooperation at the service of tripartite constituents in a results-based framework.

Regional Agenda

The ILO has expanded and deepened its engagement with government, employers, and workers in the Arab States. Through its work across the region, the ILO supports its constituents to implement ILO Conventions and Recommendations and design their own gender-mainstreamed policies for the labour market, including those which expand social protection, improve labour market data, eliminate child labour and forced labour, create decent work, improve labour inspection and occupational safety and health, and reform technical and vocational education and training (TEVT) systems. The ILO supports governments, workers and employers in the region in areas of work including:

•    Child Labour,
•    Domestic Workers,
•    Employers’ Organisation,
•    Employment Promotion,
•    Enterprise Development,
•    Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination,
•    International Labour Standards,
•    Labour Migration,
•    Skills and Employability,
•    Social Security,
•    Tripartism and Social Dialogue,
•    and Workers’ Organisations.  

The Syrian refugee crisis, which erupted in 2011, has emphasised the importance of adequate employment opportunities, both to respond to the immediate humanitarian needs of the affected populations, and to progress towards longer-term development and social stability. In this regard, the ILO has worked cooperatively with host countries and development partners to increase economic opportunities and create employment in the region through promoting an employment-rich national response, embedded in the principles of decent work.

In April 2019, the ILO Regional Office for the Arab States asserted its commitment towards full employment and decent work in the 46th Session of the Arab Labour Conference. In addition, the ILO has also embarked on projects in Syria and Yemen to fight the Worst Forms of Child Labour, including children’s involvement in armed conflicts.

With the ILO marking its Centenary in 2019, programming is now geared towards the opportunities and challenges presented by its second century of work, through the Future of Work Initiative. A Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work was adopted in June 2019 at the 108th session of the International Labour Conference. The Declaration's “human-centred approach” calls for increasing investment in: people’s capabilities, the institutions of work, and decent and sustainable work. These reflect the key recommendations outlined in the report of the Global Commission on the Future of Work, published in January 2019.

The Regional Office has launched and consolidated strategic partnerships with a number of international and regional organisations and institutions including: the Arab Labor Organization, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, international and regional worker and employer organizations, UN agencies, and donor agencies.