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The International Labour Organization is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights. It was founded in 1919 and is the only surviving major creation of the Treaty of Versailles which brought the League of Nations into being and it became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.

The ILO formulates international labour standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations setting minimum standards of basic labour rights: freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labour, equality of opportunity and treatment, and other standards regulating conditions across the entire spectrum of work related issues. It provides technical assistance primarily in the fields of vocational training and vocational rehabilitation; employment policy; labour administration; labour law and industrial relations; working conditions; management development; cooperatives; social security; labour statistics and occupational safety and health. It promotes the development of independent employers' and workers' organizations and provides training and advisory services to those organizations. Within the UN system, the ILO has a unique tripartite structure with workers and employers participating as equal partners with governments in the work of its governing organs.

During 2002-03, the International Labour Organization will operationalize its decent work agenda through a comprehensive set of initiatives across all four ILO strategic objectives: promote and realize fundamental principles and rights at work; create greater opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment and income; enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all; strengthen tripartism and social dialogue.

Most of the ILO's activities in the sphere of occupational safety and health are carried out in the context of improving social protection. In addition, intersectoral initiatives will include:

  • with the Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Sector, using technical cooperation and research on these subjects to strengthen the promotion and application of relevant Conventions on occupational safety and health and conditions of work;
  • with the Employment Sector, ensuring that policies and programmes to promote employment are underpinned by adequate systems for social protection, including:
    • appropriate, productive and safe working conditions in small and medium-sized enterprises;
    • adequate social protection for workers in micro and small enterprises;
    • appropriate linkages between labour market and social security policies;
    • development of effective policies for labour migration and the protection of vulnerable female migrant workers;
    • collection and analysis of data on security and labour market flexibility;
    • due attention to the effects of HIV/AIDS on the workforce and in the workplace;
  • with the Social Dialogue Sector:
    • the development of programmes on HIV/AIDS involving employers' and workers' organizations and labour administrations;
    • joint action on occupational safety and health, concentrating on key sectors such as mining, construction, forestry, chemicals and agriculture;
    • work on the role of employers' and workers' organizations in improving working conditions in both small and larger enterprises;
    • activities with employers' and workers' organizations to extend social protection in the informal sector.

For further information on our objectives and strategies for 2002-03, please see the ILO's Programme and Budget.

EU-OSHA Home Information provided by: ILO / SafeWork / CIS
Last modification: 23.10.2001
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