Adopted in 1998, the Declaration commits Member States to respect and promote principles and rights in four categories, whether or not they have ratified the relevant Conventions.
These categories are: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
The Declaration makes it clear that these rights are universal, and that they apply to all people in all States - regardless of the level of economic development. It particularly mentions groups with special needs, including the unemployed and migrant workers. It recognizes that economic growth alone is not enough to ensure equity, social progress and to eradicate poverty.
This commitment is supported by a Follow-up procedure. Member States that have not ratified one or more of the core Conventions are asked each year to report on the status of the relevant rights and principles within their borders, noting impediments to ratification, and areas where assistance may be required. These reports are reviewed by the Committee of Independent Expert Advisers. In turn, their observations are considered by the ILO's Governing Body.
The Declaration and its Follow-up provides three ways to help countries, employers and workers achieve the full realisation of the Declaration’s objective. Firstly, there is an Annual Review composed of reports from countries that have not yet ratified one or more of the ILO Conventions that directly relate to the specific principles and rights stated in the Declaration. This reporting process provides Governments with an opportunity to state what measures they have taken towards achieving respect for the Declaration. It also gives organizations of employers and workers a chance to voice their views on progress made and actions taken.
Next, the Global Report each year provides a dynamic global picture of the current situation of the principles and rights expressed in the Declaration. The Global Report is an objective view of the global and regional trends on the issues relevant to the Declaration and serves to highlight those areas that require greater attention. It serves as a basis for determining priorities for technical cooperation. Technical cooperation projects, the third way to give effect to the Declaration, are designed to address identifiable needs in relation to the Declaration and to strengthen local capacities thereby translating principles into practice.