ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

273rd Session
Geneva, November 1998


Report of the Director-General

Third Supplementary Report:
Promotion of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental
Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up

1. The promotion of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up is a long-term task that must be seriously undertaken and pursued by the Office as a whole, both at headquarters and in the field offices and multidisciplinary teams, as part of their day-to-day activities. Rapid implementation of the follow-up will in this respect be crucial to the credibility of the Declaration and its promotion.

2. This paper is intended to inform the Governing Body of the activities that have been undertaken since the adoption of the Declaration and to provide details of the manner in which it is foreseen that this task will be pursued.

3. In addition to the usual distribution of texts adopted by the International Labour Conference to various national authorities in accordance with official instructions, the text of the Declaration has been communicated personally to all ministers whose competence includes labour and employment issues. In addition, in view of the important role played by certain heads of diplomatic missions in the process leading to the adoption of the Declaration, all permanent representatives accredited to the United Nations and its specialized agencies in Geneva have received a copy of the Declaration with a letter from the Director-General recalling the decisions to be taken at the present session of the Governing Body concerning implementation of the Declaration and its follow-up.

4. The executive heads of all agencies of the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods institutions have also received the text with a letter from the Director-General calling on those organizations to join the ILO in promoting and upholding the principles enshrined in the Declaration. A number of replies have been received indicating the initiatives taken to make the Declaration known or proposing cooperation in various fields covered by the Declaration.

5. Having been invited to make a statement to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July 1998, during the high-level discussion the Director-General presented the Declaration, recalling the collective responsibility of the United Nations system as a whole, in its many and varied activities and in full respect for the mandates of the different agencies, to ensure coherence of action to promote the emergence of a world in which respect for fundamental values and principles concerning people at work adequately offsets the risks inherent in economic progress that lacks any social dimension. In September the Director-General was invited to participate in a hearing before the Commission for External Economic Relations of the European Parliament at which he recalled the specific responsibility of the European Union regarding the particular significance for its Members of the principles enshrined in the Declaration. In October a high-level meeting was organized by the World Bank concerning fundamental standards and questions related to social dialogue, followed by a public forum organized jointly by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.(1) These events provided an opportunity for the Director-General of the IMF and the President of the World Bank to recall that the fundamental standards that were the subject of the Declaration lay at the heart of democratic values and played an essential role in the achievement of sustainable development.

6. Whenever they have had an opportunity to do so, the members of the ILO directorate have presented the Declaration and its follow-up to those they have met and at various fora. Some of the statements can be found on the Internet sites at headquarters and the field offices.

7. Reports on the activities of area and branch offices show that full account has been taken of the need to present the Declaration. A number of offices have reproduced the text of the Declaration in their bulletins, and directors or qualified officials have provided explanations of the Declaration and its significance for the ILO and its Members. This is also the case with the multidisciplinary teams, which have in general included material on the Declaration in the presentations of ILO activities that they are called upon to make. They are assisted in this task by a bulletin dedicated to the Declaration, which keeps them informed of latest developments and of the various stages involved in implementing its follow-up.

Geneva, 10 November 1998.

1. GB.273/ESP/6(Add.1).

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