ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

264th Session
Geneva, November 1995

II. Participation and tripartism in the ILO's mandate

6. The concept of participation is fundamental to the tripartite structure of the ILO, and as such it is the guiding principle of many activities undertaken by the Office, not least of which are those carried out through technical cooperation. The Declaration of Philadelphia encapsulates the ILO's commitment to participation with the statement that the war against want requires to be carried on with unrelenting vigour within each nation, and by continuous and concerted international effort in which the representatives of workers and employers, enjoying equal status with those of governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic decision with a view to promotion of the common welfare.

7. Several international labour standards and resolutions of the International Labour Conference (ILC) refer to tripartism and participation in connection with ILO technical cooperation activities. The resolution concerning the role of the ILO in technical cooperation, adopted by the ILC in 1993, addressed the question of the social partners' participation by encouraging an increase in the number of programmes and projects with objectives to promote tripartism and social dialogue and by making tripartism an important managerial element in technical cooperation programmes and projects.

8. Moreover, the scope of the Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144) referring to the procedures for tripartite consultation with workers' and employers' organizations to promote the application of international labour standards, was extended in Recommendation No. 152 of the same year, which states that the procedures, after consultation between the competent authority and the representative organizations, should be extended to cover, inter alia, the preparation, implementation and evaluation of technical cooperation activities in which the ILO participates.(1)

9. Participation in the broader sense of the term, involving target groups in the planning, implementation and evaluation of technical cooperation programmes and projects, is invoked in the Social Policy (Basic Aims and Standards) Convention, 1962 (No. 117), the Preamble to which states that all possible steps should be taken to interest and associate the population in the framing and execution of measures of social progress.

10. These instruments not only provide for tripartism in technical cooperation programmes and projects as an objective in itself, but also as a management tool. They also call for the participation of the population concerned in the formulation and implementation of measures of social progress. The concepts defined and principles enshrined therein have, accordingly, guided the planning and implementation of a range of ILO technical cooperation activities over the years. Programmes and projects have been designed with the specific objective of promoting tripartism and social dialogue, have set up steering committees with tripartite structures to advise on operations, and have involved social and community organizations to represent the target groups. New initiatives are contemplated in this direction within the framework of the Active Partnership Policy, which is primarily aimed at bringing the ILO closer to its social partners and facilitating their greater involvement in ILO activities at the country level.


(1) Various Conventions covering specific technical fields include provisions on tripartite consultations: one example is the Human Resources Development Convention, 1975 (No. 142).

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Updated by VC. Approved by NdW. Last update: 26 January 2000.