ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

86th Session
Geneva, June 1998

Report of the Chairperson of the Governing Body
to the Conference for the year 1997-98

This report on the work of the Governing Body is submitted to the Conference in accordance with article 14 of the Standing Orders of the Governing Body. It covers the period since the last general session of the Conference (June 1997), i.e., the Governing Body's 269th (June 1997), 270th (November 1997) and 271st (March 1998) Sessions. It focuses only on the highlights of the Governing Body's year, and does not cover matters that are otherwise before the Conference. In particular, it does not cover in detail the extensive work performed by the Governing Body to prepare the draft Declaration of principles concerning fundamental rights, which the Governing Body has placed on the agenda of the present session of the International Labour Conference.

Those seeking more extensive and detailed information on the work of the Governing Body as a whole are referred to the notes at the end of the report. They may also consult the minutes of its proceedings, or the documents submitted to its committees and to the Governing Body itself. Other relevant material, as well as the reports and other Governing Body documents mentioned in the text and in the endnotes, are available on the ILO's Internet site.(1)

Follow-up on the discussion of the Report of the
Director-General to the 85th Session of the
International Labour Conference

The Governing Body examined follow-up measures on the two parts of the Director-General's report to the 85th Session of the Conference (1997) on the future of ILO standard-setting activities.

With respect to the first part, concerning the universal guarantee of fundamental rights as a prerequisite for workers to be able to share the benefits of globalization, the Governing Body decided in November 1997 to include an item on the agenda of the present session of the Conference relating to the consideration of a possible Declaration of principles concerning fundamental rights and its appropriate follow-up. A series of consultations within and outside the Governing Body have taken place since that decision was taken, and the Office has accordingly prepared the draft text now submitted to the Conference under the seventh item on its agenda.

The second part of the report of the Director-General proposed possible improvements to the ILO's standard-setting activities to ensure that standards have a greater impact and better meet constituents' needs. After a preliminary discussion in November 1997, the Governing Body decided to examine the various proposals at its session in November 1998.(2)

Employment and social policy

Follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development

The ACC Task Force on Full Employment and Sustainable Livelihoods was created in 1995, with the ILO as lead agency, as part of follow-up on the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. Its mandate was to help governments give effect to the commitment made by heads of state and government at the Social Summit to promoting the goal of full employment. The Social Summit recognized the need to promote tripartite dialogue and social consensus in policy-making, and called on governments "to safeguard the basic rights of workers and, to this end, freely promote respect for relevant International Labour Organization Conventions, including those on the prohibition of forced and child labour, freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the principle of non-discrimination".

At its November and March sessions the Governing Body discussed the Synthesis Report(3) prepared by the ILO as the main output of the Task Force on the basis of the seven country employment policy reviews. All the reviews followed largely the framework paper drawn up by the ILO and agreed upon by the Task Force, which set out the basic areas to be examined. These included national macroeconomic and sectoral policies, paying particular attention to employment promotion and job quality and covering such issues as stability, savings, investment and enterprise development; labour market policies and institutions operating according to agreed rules and regulations inspired by a system of international standards; democratic policy-making, social dialogue and the involvement of civil society; the elimination of gender discrimination and child labour and the operation of targeted programmes to assist the employability of the poor and the vulnerable; and the need to adjust to changes in trade and capital flows and migratory movements and to take measures to maximize the employment effects of these flows.

Some important findings were: confirmation of the expected positive relationship between output growth and employment expansion; slow growth in formal wage employment in most countries, with public-sector employment falling significantly; most new employment being generated in small enterprises and the informal sector; the often unsatisfactory quality of employment, with low levels of labour protection, limited respect for workers' basic rights, poor conditions of work and gender discrimination; low levels of basic education and vocational skills, placing a serious constraint on efforts to increase productivity, ensure international competitiveness and attract private foreign capital in both developing and more developed countries; continuing discrimination against women in relation to employment opportunities, wage rates, conditions of work and schooling, which was true for countries at different stages of development; and depressed economic conditions in several countries, with increases in the number of working children, despite the great increase in public awareness of the problems of child labour.

The Office paper submitted in November(4) contained a set of policy guidelines, drawn from the country reviews, for promoting employment and sustainable livelihoods at the national level. These could serve to facilitate the work of the UN Resident Coordinators in the fields concerned. The Synthesis Report placed strong emphasis on the importance and usefulness of the goal of full employment as an overarching policy objective. The report also contained proposals for international action, especially by the United Nations system agencies.

The Governing Body also discussed progress regarding a further set of country employment policy reviews (CEPRs), which the ILO is preparing as part of its activities to give effect to the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, in particular to promote the goal of full, productive and freely-chosen employment with full respect for basic workers' rights. These reviews are being conducted within the framework set out in a Governing Body paper of March 1996.(5) The selection of countries for review is largely based on considerations of regional balance and the need to cover various levels of development. The CEPRs are being implemented with the full consent of the governments concerned and in close cooperation with the social partners. Eight to ten country reviews are envisaged in the current biennium. In November 1997, the Governing Body discussed an Office paper which provided a brief account of the ILO's initiative in carrying out the CEPRs.(6)

In March the Governing Body also discussed preparations for the International Consultation concerning Follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development, to be held by the ILO in 1999. It considered a draft agenda for the Consultation, which covered progress towards full employment; determinants of full employment; overcoming the constraints affecting the achievement of full employment, and the necessary policy and institutional reform; and ILO support for policy and institutional reform.(7)

Follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development is also one of the main themes of the ILO's work in relation to other United Nations agencies, and figured prominently in the Governing Body's annual review of developments in the United Nations system.(8)

In 1997 the 35th Session of the Commission for Social Development (New York, February-March 1997) had as its priority theme Productive employment and sustainable livelihoods, and the ILO served as task manager to prepare the Secretary-General's Report on this theme for submission to the Commission. The Governing Body took note of information on ILO participation in that session: the ILO opened the general debate at the session and worked with the UN Secretariat to organize several panel discussions on the priority theme, including one moderated by the Director-General. In the conclusions of the Commission's 1997 session, the ILO was instrumental in assuring that the Commission called on all countries and the international community to reinstate the attainment of full, productive, appropriately and adequately remunerated, freely chosen employment as a central objective of economic and social policies. The ILO also provided technical representation on the rights of disabled workers for the Commission's discussions on the rights of the disabled, a subsidiary theme of the Commission's 1997 agenda. These ILO concerns also featured prominently in the Commission's conclusions.

The Governing Body noted information concerning the 36th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development (New York, February 1998). The Commission has responsibility within the UN system for follow-up on the Social Summit. The priority themes for 1998 were the promotion of social integration and popular participation. The ILO contributed to the preparatory work, participated with the World Bank and UNDP in a round-table discussion on social exclusion and poverty alleviation for the Commission, and presented a statement at the opening of the general discussion. Most importantly, the ILO participated actively in the negotiations involving the Commission's conclusions, which specifically endorsed ILO objectives and concerns in the areas of productive employment, core labour standards and child labour. The Commission's 1999 session will focus on the priority theme of social services for all and on the initiation of the overall review of the outcome of the Social Summit, which will be the focus of a special session of the General Assembly in the year 2000. The General Assembly has set up its own Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly, which will conduct an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development. The Commission expects to receive a report on the Preparatory Committee's work at its 1999 session.(9)

The Governing Body discussed the ILO's involvement in the activities of the other two ACC Task Forces set up in response to the World Summit for Social Development. With respect to the Inter-Agency Task Force on an Enabling Environment for Economic and Social Development, chaired by the World Bank, the ILO participated actively in drafting the background paper and was responsible for carrying out one of the five country case studies (Hungary) undertaken within the framework of the Working Group on Macroeconomic and Social Framework, and contributed to the work of the other Working Group on Capacity-building for Governance set up by the same Task Force. As a member of the Task Force on Basic Social Services for All, chaired by the UNFPA, the ILO served as the convenor of a Working Group on International Migration and provided input to a series of case-studies on the "Lessons Learned in the Financing and Provision of Basic Social Services".

Relations with the Bretton Woods institutions and the G-8

In November the Governing Body discussed a detailed Office paper on relations with the Bretton Woods institutions.(10) While the impact of structural adjustment programmes as such remained an important focus of the objectives for cooperation and dialogue with the Bretton Woods institutions, there had been a shift to more socially focused concerns, which had contributed to a positive convergence of thinking on the need for social development, social consensus and respect for basic human rights. Work is continuing, particularly with the World Bank, in such areas as labour law reform, wage policy, pensions, social security and social safety nets.

The Governing Body also took note of information on the ILO's participation in the G-8 Kobe Jobs Conference (November 1997) and the G-8 London Conference on growth, employability and inclusion (February 1998).(11)

Second ILO Enterprise Forum

In March the Governing Body discussed preparations for the Second ILO Enterprise Forum, to be held in November 1999.(12) The Office paper covered the thematic framework, centred on enterprise competitiveness, corporate citizenship and the employment challenge in the 21st century, and the timing and structure of the Forum.

Working Party on the Social Dimensions of the
Liberalization of International Trade

Country studies

The Working Party had suggested in 1997 that the Office undertake a series of case studies to analyse the social impact of globalization and trade liberalization in a number of countries. The Director-General accordingly contacted a number of member States to inquire about their interest in the project, and several confirmed their participation. The Working Party welcomed this result. The very positive response rate and diversity of countries were encouraging.

In November the Working Party examined progress in this area.(13) In view of the interest expressed and the specificity of the work involved, the Director-General had set up a special team, which had begun to contact the countries concerned with a view to undertaking an exploratory mission. An analytical framework has been prepared in order to ensure thematic unity of the studies and, as far as possible, a degree of comparability, and which specifies the purpose of the project and the subjects on which the studies will focus. The purpose of the exercise is to make up for the paucity of precise data and to help Members of the Organization achieve a clearer focus in taking a stand on this issue. Special attention will be paid to conditions and measures (promoted by the public authorities or negotiated by the social partners) which have helped enhance the benefits of globalization while containing the social costs. The final output of the exercise will consist in country studies on the countries concerned and a synthesis report, which will focus chiefly on the main results of the country studies, drawing on the results of other authoritative studies in this field, and will be discussed by the Governing Body in 1999. The studies will be drafted by the special team in close collaboration with the countries and with the participation of the multidisciplinary teams and field offices. A further progress report may be discussed in autumn 1998.


In November the Working Party discussed a paper on a preliminary framework for Office research on core labour standards and economic development in developing countries.(14) The aim of the study is to produce output that is of practical use to ILO constituents. It will focus on policy-related issues and take into account differences in economic, institutional and social structures. The principal output of the research will be a report, to be compiled at the end of 1999, which should benefit from the methodology being developed from the country studies.

In March the Working Party discussed details of several research projects on the social dimensions of globalization.(15) The projects discussed included those on productivity improvement, competitiveness and quality jobs in developing countries, the employment and labour market effects of regional blocs, and core labour standards and economic development in developing countries. The Working Party found the Office paper somewhat lacking and insufficiently strategic. It was felt that the ILO should be ready to pursue its own work programme whatever other international organizations might be doing. A number of detailed concerns were raised on the two specifications for studies, although it was agreed that there were no problems of overlap or duplication with work that the Working Party had commissioned. Particular concern was expressed, however, at the delay in the study on core labour standards. The Working Party will return to the question of this study in November 1998.

Social labelling

During discussions in 1996 in the Governing Body and at the International Labour Conference considerable attention was given to the possible role of labelling programmes in supporting efforts aimed at the elimination of child labour. This interest arose as a result of two related concerns. First, the growing awareness in both industrialized and developing countries of the serious nature of the child labour problem and the various forms in which it exists. Secondly, the attempt by a wide range of actors, including consumer and industry groups, to find new ways to deal with it. Hence the Office commissioned a preliminary study, entitled Labelling Child Labour Products.(16)

In November the Working Party discussed the issue of social labelling and the social responsibilities of enterprises and a forthcoming Office paper, for discussion in November 1998, on the various schemes in operation in the areas of codes of conduct and social labelling.(17) In March it discussed the ILO study in further detail.(18) The study discussed what social labelling is and explained how social labelling initiatives have arisen as one of many ways of attempting to eliminate or alleviate the very complex problem of child labour. The study described six specific child labour labelling initiatives that are currently attempting to improve the lives of working children, their families and their future. The Working Party noted that the objectives of social labelling schemes and codes of conduct were not confined to the child labour issue, and that they could potentially cover all the ILO's core standards. It also noted that the proponents of such schemes and codes did not see them as a comprehensive solution, but as one element of a wider strategy.

Activities of other organizations

In November the Working Party discussed a detailed Office paper giving an overview of the extensive activities of other bodies relevant to the work of the Working Party.(19) The paper covered reports and studies dealing with subjects relating to the social dimension of globalization, meetings and conferences that have addressed the subject, and various other regional and international activities. There was general agreement that the international debate had moved on significantly and that there were now a large number of areas of agreement, not least as a result of the Working Party's deliberations. With regard to the particularly sensitive issue of the possible relations between trade and labour standards, the Working Party reaffirmed its opposition to protectionism and its support for the universal observance of ILO core standards. The Working Party emphasized the urgency of both ILO research activities and the Governing Body's work on standards, and it urged the Office to press ahead with all relevant work as quickly as possible. As regards developments outside the ILO, the Working Party noted a number of regional and local initiatives, for example in MERCOSUR, the European Union and APEC, which would continue to be of interest to the Office and to ILO constituents.(20)

UN reform: Implications for the ILO

In addition to its annual review of developments in the UN system, in March the Governing Body discussed at length an Office paper(21) on the implications for the ILO of current proposals for reform of the UN system as a whole. The paper focused on the Secretary-General's report of 19 July 1997 entitled Renewing the United Nations: A programme for reform, commonly referred to as his "Track II proposals". The Office paper analysed various aspects of the reform process as a reflection of the desire to instill what has been termed a greater unity of purpose in the UN system, largely focused on its economic and social concerns, with strong emphasis on development as the top priority and sensitivity to social and environmental concerns, and reflecting an acknowledged need to build bridges of cooperation and the necessary partnerships for development between governments, the private sector, civil society and regional and global organizations. The question of relations with civil society was also the subject of a brief report by the Director-General on his participation in the Second Regular Session of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) for 1997 (New York, October 1997), whose agenda included an item entitled the relationships between the United Nations system and civil society, including the private sector -- handling the global agenda with non-State actors.(22) The ILO's long experience of interaction between governments and non-State actors was regarded at the ACC session as offering valuable guidance for the UN system as a whole in its desire to develop a manageable framework for expanding and intensifying relationships with civil society, including business.

The issue of reform in the UN system and its implications for ILO programmes was discussed by the Committee on Technical Cooperation in November as part of its annual review of developments in the United Nations system.(23) Noting that reform was most visible in operational activities for development, the Office paper discussed the implications of follow-up on recent global conferences and the issues of governance and financing, and described some of the more pertinent details of the Secretary-General's proposals and the work in progress, in particular that of the United Nations Development Group created by the Secretary-General and comprising a core membership of UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF, with other UN entities participating on a more ad hoc basis according to their interests and mandate.

International labour standards

Standard-setting policy: the ratification and
promotion of fundamental ILO Conventions

The Governing Body's Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards reviewed progress in the ratification and promotion of the ILO's fundamental Conventions, on which subject the Director-General had addressed a letter to all member States that had not ratified all of them in May 1995, followed by other subsequent letters. The Office papers(24) reported on the responses and gave detailed analyses of the situation for each Convention. Since the start of the campaign, the ILO had received replies from 132 of the 153 countries that had not ratified all the fundamental Conventions. Some 82 new ratifications had been registered by March as a result, and more were expected.

Revision of standards

The Working Party on Policy regarding the Revision of Standards continued its work of examining the need for the revision of Conventions concerning standards in various subject-areas. Its recommendations included the revision of certain Conventions, requests to Governments to consider ratifying the standards or to provide information on other Conventions, or simply to maintain the status quo.(25) This work will continue in the coming year, when the situation regarding Recommendations will also be examined for the first time.

The Working Party also gave attention to follow-up on consultations concerning the need for revision and obstacles to the ratification of 13 Conventions that presented particular problems.(26)

Following the adoption of a set of amendments to the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Governing Body and of the Conference at the International Labour Conference in 1997, the Governing Body decided to include proposals for the withdrawal of six Conventions that have never entered into force on the agenda of the Conference in the year 2000.(27)


In March the Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards conducted its annual review of ILO action concerning discrimination in employment and occupation, based on a general status report prepared by the Office.(28) This covered, among other subjects, equality for women and ILO activities in this field, including special training provided for ILO field staff in the identification of gender issues, planning, and integrating gender concerns into ILO programmes and projects. The Office paper also covered discrimination issues relating to disabled workers, migrant workers, indigenous and tribal peoples, and workers of the occupied Arab territories.

In March the Governing Body adopted the report and conclusions of the Tripartite Meeting on Breaking through the Glass Ceiling: Women in Management, held in Geneva in December 1997.(29) The participants emphasized the importance of employers' and workers' organizations appointing women to top positions in their own structures and the significant role of national tripartite commissions in promoting equal opportunities for women and men. A number of conclusions called on the ILO to promote women in management through the collection and dissemination of data and other information and to organize tripartite meetings on such issues in all regions, in particular in Africa and in countries in transition to a market economy.

In March the Committee on Technical Cooperation briefly discussed the new ILO global programme on More and Better Jobs for Women, launched in June 1997.(30) The programme framework document was developed on the basis of extensive in-house consultations, discussions with representatives of international workers' and employers' organizations, and representatives of potential donors. This programme is also an ILO contribution to follow-up on the Fourth World Conference on Women and the World Summit for Social Development. The programme will give particular attention to measures to help countries ratify and implement fundamental labour standards relating to women workers, in particular Conventions Nos. 100 and 111. For more information on the background to the new global programmes, see below in the section concerning the Active Partnership Policy and technical cooperation.

Migrant workers

Attention was also given in the annual review of ILO action concerning discrimination in employment and occupation(31) to the issue of migrant workers, which is becoming the focus of increased attention by ILO constituents, resulting in an increasing number of requests for technical assistance. Protection, integration and non-discrimination figured prominently in the Programme of Action adopted by the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, September 1994) and the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. The Office has been entrusted with leading the Working Group on International Migration established by the ACC Task Force on Basic Social Services for All. Within the framework of this working group, a Technical Symposium on International Migration and Development will be held in The Hague from 29 June to 3 July 1998. This symposium is intended: (i) to examine salient international migration and development policy issues faced by governments, such as protecting migrants and preventing their economic and social marginalization; (ii) to evaluate, through country case-studies, the effectiveness of existing policies, procedures, measures and mechanisms; and (iii) to suggest to governments ways to foster orderly migration flows and to counteract the economic and social marginalization of migrants.

In November the Governing Body adopted the report of the Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Future ILO Activities in the Field of Migration (Geneva, April 1997). The Meeting reviewed Office proposals on protection issues related to: (i) workers engaged under temporary migration schemes, (ii) migrant workers recruited by private agents for employment in another country, and (iii) a new Office instrument aimed at protecting migrant workers who do not fall under Convention-based procedures. The meeting approved a set of guidelines, aimed at ILO constituents, on improving the protection of these groups of workers and the procedural rules on "Pattern and practice studies on the exploitation of migrant workers not falling under Convention-based procedures".(32)

Freedom of association

The Committee on Freedom of Association continued to receive a high number of complaints dealing with industrial relations and human rights issues, and examined over 100 different cases.(33) The Committee drew the Governing Body's particular attention to certain cases before it due to the seriousness and urgency of the issues raised in them. These cases concerned Colombia (Case No. 1787), Nigeria (Case No. 1793) and Sudan (Case No. 1843).

In March the Governing Body referred the allegations concerning the trade union situation in Nigeria, contained in the complaints that were before the Committee on Freedom of Association as Cases Nos. 1793 and 1935, to a Commission of Inquiry to be appointed in accordance with article 26 of the Constitution, deciding that the members of the Commission should be nominated in accordance with the same criteria, and would serve in the same conditions, as the members of previous such commissions.(34)

Representations submitted under article 24 of the ILO Constitution

During the past year the Governing Body received a number of representations submitted by industrial associations of employers and workers under article 24 of the ILO Constitution. It established committees to deal with representations concerning Chile (Conventions Nos. 35 and 37), Denmark (Convention No. 122), Hungary (Conventions Nos. 122 and 111), Mexico (Convention No. 169), Peru (Convention No. 169), Spain (Conventions Nos. 97, 111 and 122) and Venezuela (Convention No. 122), and referred the allegations concerning Conventions Nos. 87 and 98 in the representation concerning Denmark to its Committee on Freedom of Association.

The Governing Body also adopted recommendations made by committees it had set up to examine representations received concerning the Russian Federation (Convention No. 95), Senegal (Convention No. 105) and Uruguay (Convention No. 155). The Governing Body decided to publish the report of the Committee set up to examine the representation alleging non-observance by the Russian Federation of the Protection of Wages Convention, 1949 (No. 95), made by Education International and the Education and Science Employees' Union of Russia.(35)

Multidisciplinary teams

In November the Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards reviewed the activities of the multidisciplinary teams in relation to standards on the basis of an Office paper(36) describing their work in relation to the promotion of human rights, assistance on constitutional obligations, help with the revision of labour legislation, the formulation of country objectives, promoting triparite dialogue, gender issues, child labour, export processing zones, and national information meetings. The Committee also noted developments in the staffing of the multidisciplinary teams with standards experts.

UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status
of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel, 1997

In March the Governing Body reviewed an Office paper(37) reporting on the final adoption by UNESCO of the Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel. It noted that, while the Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (CEART) was prepared to assume a role in monitoring the application of the Recommendation, the UNESCO General Conference had not addressed this issue when adopting it. The Governing Body accordingly requested the Director-General to continue consultations with the Director-General of UNESCO with a view to submitting to the Executive Board of UNESCO at one of its future sessions a proposal concerning the legal and practical aspects of monitoring of the Recommendation.

Active partnership and technical cooperation

Evaluation of the Active Partnership Policy

In March 1997 the Governing Body set up a Working Party on the Evaluation of the Active Partnership Policy, comprising three Government, three Employer and three Worker members, with the Chairperson of the Committee on Technical Cooperation chairing its proceedings. During the past year the Working Party has conducted its evaluation through discussions in Geneva, the study of documentation, and field trips to ILO member States in four regions (Ethiopia, Côte d'Ivoire, Brazil, Peru, Pakistan, Thailand, Hungary and Ukraine). Each mission comprised three members of the Working Party. The members of the Working Party had individual regional group meetings and general meetings in Geneva in November and January.

The Working Party sought to assess to what extent the Active Partnership Policy had brought the ILO closer to its tripartite constituency in member States; to what extent constituents had become increasingly involved in joint action with the ILO; and the extent of improvements in the coherence and quality of technical services provided to constituents.

On the basis of four regional reports and comments from members of the evaluation team the Office prepared a factual synthesis document with conclusions and observations provided by the members of the Working Party themselves. At its meeting in January 1998 the Employer and Worker members of the Working Party provided a joint paper as their contribution to the final report, which was commented on by the Government group. The workload was such, however, that it was not possible to arrive at fully definitive conclusions that would make it possible to finalize a report.

The Working Party therefore requested the Office to prepare a report on the issues raised to facilitate discussion in the Committee on Technical Cooperation in March.(38) While it had still to adopt its final report, in general the Working Party concluded that positive changes had occurred: ILO technical assistance and services had become more demand-driven and relevant to constituents. The Active Partnership Policy had made possible greater involvement by the social partners in the development and implementation of technical assistance programmes. The establishment of the MDTs had brought ILO technical expertise physically closer to constituents. There was enhanced ILO visibility and increased familiarity and responsiveness on the part of ILO experts towards constituents, and the multidisciplinary approach had brought greater potential for synergy, cost-effectiveness and the provision of more rapid and comprehensive responses to requests from constituents.

The Working Party will meet again during the summer of 1998 to finalize its report, which will be submitted to the Committee on Technical Cooperation in November.

Child labourIn March the Committee on Technical Cooperation discussed at length a detailed Office paper(39) on the approach and operational aspects of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). The paper described IPEC's background, growth and performance; its strategies and delivery mechanisms; the Memoranda of Understanding; its position within ILO structures; the main focuses of the Programme; its work to promote international labour standards, in particular Convention No. 138; the role of ILO constituents in the Programme; the design, monitoring and evaluation of IPEC operational activities; and relations with other international organizations. It also assessed the critical issues and challenges facing the Programme as regards the implications of its dramatic growth; its resource mobilization and communications strategy; monitoring and evaluation; management and coordination; and relations with partners.

Annual review of the ILO's technical cooperation programme

In November the Committee on Technical Cooperation reviewed ILO technical cooperation activities during 1996-97. The Office paper(40) reviewed the ILO's performance, primarily as reflected in expenditure on technical cooperation during the period, and provided an overview of technical cooperation activities categorized in terms of their primary contribution to the three ILO priority objectives for the current biennium: employment promotion and poverty alleviation; the protection of working people; and promoting democracy and human rights. Workers' and employers' activities and the application of tripartite principles in technical cooperation, key elements in supporting the democratization process, were discussed separately to reflect the importance of tripartism in the ILO's approach to technical cooperation. Selected dimensions of technical cooperation, in particular links with international labour standards, the regular budget action programmes, and gender issues were also highlighted. Attention was given to policy and management issues with implications for quality and sustainability. The Office paper concluded with a review of the implementation of the ILO strategy for technical cooperation.

Discussing the Office paper, the Committee expressed concern at the overall decline in the level of resources available for the ILO's technical cooperation programme, which it also discussed in assessing the ILO's resource mobilization strategy (see below). It also commented on the implementation of the Active Partnership Policy, in particular the execution of the country objectives exercises, decentralization and related management issues; dimensions of the strategy for technical cooperation; evaluation; international labour standards and technical cooperation; and gender issues.(41) It requested further information on the status of the country objectives, which was provided by the Office in March.(42)

The ILO's resource mobilization strategy

In November the Committee on Technical Cooperation examined a detailed Office paper(43) reporting on the updating of the ILO's resource mobilization strategy to take into account the most recent changes in the development environment. These include in particular the contraction of official development assistance (ODA), which has led to increased competition for the available funds and the application of more demanding criteria for establishing development partnerships. Other significant factors are new developments and experience in the UN system resulting from the recent reforms, follow-up initiatives on recent UN summit conferences, the Secretary General's proposals concerning country-level coordination, feedback from various technical cooperation partners, and follow-up on the first stages of implementation of the Active Partnership Policy (APP). The country objective exercises have also revealed priority areas where a concerted resource mobilization effort will be required in order to satisfy the needs of constituents. The strategy also needs to take account of, and build on, a number of initiatives taken with various partners, such as the World Bank and the European Union. The Office review of the strategy drew on a number of internal consultations, meetings and workshops to revise its approaches and improve its organization so as to meet its objectives in the field of technical cooperation.

The Committee endorsed the ILO's resource mobilization strategy and recommended that the Governing Body approve the necessary financial provision for the promotion of technical cooperation in future programme and budget proposals. In March the Committee discussed a brief report on the action taken regarding the implementation of the resource mobilization strategy.(44)

New global programmes

In March the Committee on Technical Cooperation reviewed a brief paper describing a number of new global programmes,(45) designed to give greater impact, quality and visibility to the work of the Office in key areas of concern and in such a way as to facilitate the mobilization of external resources. The example of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour served to some extent as a model for the new global programmes, which concern the international programme on More and Better Jobs for Women (see above, in the section concerning discrimination), Strategies and Tools against Social Exclusion and Poverty (STEP), the International Small Enterprise Programme (ISEP), and the global programme on Occupational Safety, Health and the Environment (OSHE). The first three have already been launched. The programmes are global in that (a) they offer truly global geographical coverage extending beyond single countries and regions, which will enhance their value; (b) they are intended to focus on obligations of a global nature conferred on the ILO, for example through international UN summits, which require responses on a global scale; (c) they are global in a qualitative sense, as they are based on a comprehensive and integrated approach ensuring that the advantages of scale are used to maximize impact, efficiency and visibility. Implementation of these programmes is dependent on external funding.

Preliminary consultation on the
Programme and Budget proposals for 2000-2001

In March the Governing Body held a preliminary consultation on the Programme and Budget proposals for 2000-2001.(46) The Governing Body will continue to examine the Programme and Budget for 2000-2001 in November later this year.

Financial questions

In November the Governing Body approved amendments to the Financial Rules required to strengthen oversight and accountability in the management of resources and to establish a Committee on Accountability.(47) The Governing Body also took note of a report on the Office's information technology strategy.(48)

In March the Governing Body approved expenditure estimated at US$5.6 million, to be financed from savings in the 1998-99 programme and budget, to ensure that computer-based systems in the ILO will function properly in the year 2000.(49) The Governing Body also took note of progress reports on the extension of the ILO Regional Office for Africa in Abidjan and the construction of the ILO premises in Islamabad.

Sectoral activities

In March the Committee on Sectoral and Technical Meetings and Related Issues examined an Office paper(50) giving an account of the effect given to the recommendations of sectoral meetings held in 1996-97. This was the first report on follow-up activities since the new system of sectoral meetings was introduced in January 1996. The recommendations included the promotion of the ratification and application of specific international labour standards; research and the publication and dissemination of the results; the organization of sector-specific local, national and regional meetings; the collection and dissemination of sector-specific information and data; and the provision of technical advisory services and technical cooperation.

International Labour Conference

A major innovation of the past year has been the Governing Body's approach to the selection of items for the agenda of the Conference. Instead of the limited range of proposals it requested from the Office in the past, it based itself on broader consultations leading to a portfolio of items that would be available for selection each year and would be constantly updated and expanded. The initial portfolio contained proposals on some 38 different items in all fields of ILO activity.(51)

On the basis of this portfolio, the Governing Body narrowed down its choice to nine possible subjects and decided in March on the agenda of the session of the Conference to be held in the year 2000, selecting items on human resources training and development: vocational guidance and vocational training (for a general discussion); and safety and health in agriculture (first discussion). The Governing Body is also giving consideration to special arrangements that could be made for the International Labour Conference in 2000 to mark the turn of the millennium.

In November the Governing Body decided to reinstate, as from the present session of the Conference, the in-session publication of the issues of the Provisional Record covering the discussion of the reports of the Chairperson of the Governing Body and the Director-General.(52)

In March the Governing Body reviewed the legal aspects of the reforms in the functioning of the International Labour Conference.(53) It decided that all the measures applied in 1997 be continued at the present session.

Regional meetings

In March the Governing Body examined the report and conclusions of the Twelfth Asian Regional Meeting, held in Bangkok in December 1997,(54) and discussed a paper on action taken to follow up on the meeting.(55) It attached particular importance to the High-Level Meeting on Social Responses to the Financial Crisis in East and South-East Asian Countries (Bangkok, 22-24 April 1998), called for by the Regional Meeting, asking that its report be submitted to the Governing Body at its next session (June 1998).

Governing Body documents on the Internet

The ILO Internet site includes documents of the Governing Body. In March the Governing Body decided to remove the restriction on publication of its documents in advance of its sessions and amended its Standing Orders accordingly. All documents except those of a confidential nature will henceforth be available publicly as soon as they are approved.(56)

Other matters

In November the Governing Body took note of the report of the Meeting of Experts on Workers' Health Surveillance and authorized the Director-General to publish and distribute the Report of the Meeting, together with the Technical and Ethical Guidelines for Workers' Health Surveillance adopted at the meeting, which reviewed practice worldwide regarding workers' health surveillance.(57)

In March the Governing Body elected Mr. Juan Somavía to the post of Director-General of the International Labour Office, for a five-year term of office in accordance with the ILO Staff Regulations, to take effect on 4 March 1999.


2. For background, see GB.270/3/1 and Add., GB.270/3/2 and GB.271/3/1. See also: GB.270/PV, Minutes of the 270th Session of the Governing Body, second, third and fourth sittings.

3. ACC Task Force on Full Employment and Sustainable Livelihoods: Synthesis Report, 27 March 1997. The full report is available in English on the Internet on EMPFORM's home pages on the ILO Internet web site at See GB.270/ESP/1/1, GB.270/10, paras. 14-29, and GB.271/13, paras. 34-48.

4. GB.270/ESP/1/1, para. 22, also reproduced in GB.271/ESP/3/1. For discussion, see GB.271/13, paras. 34-48.

5. GB.265/ESP/1.

6. GB.270/ESP/1/2; GB.270/10, paras. 30-36; GB.271/ESP/3/2; GB.271/13, paras. 34-48.

7. GB.271/ESP/3/3.

8. GB.271/8/1.

9. GB.271/8/1, paras. 15-16.

10. GB.270/ESP/3.

11. GB.271/ESP/4.

12. GB.271/ESP/2.

13. GB.270/WP/SDL/1/2.

14. GB.270/WP/SDL/1/4.

15. GB.271/WP/SDL/1/2.

16. Hilowitz. J: Labelling child labour products: A preliminary study. ILO, Geneva, 1997.

17. GB.270/WP/SDL/1/3.

18. GB.271/WP/SDL/1/1.

19. GB.270/WP/SDL/1/1.

20. See Minutes of the 270th Session of the Governing Body, fifth sitting.

21. GB.271/8/2.

22. GB.270/15/2.

23. GB.270/TC/3. For the Committee's discussion, see GB.270/12, paras. 44-49.

24. GB.270/LILS/5 and GB.271/LILS/6; See also Reports of the Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards: Second report -- International labour standards (GB.270/9/2, paras. 24-56; GB.271/11/2, paras. 16-33).

25. Reports of the Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards: Second report -- International labour standards (GB.270/9/2; GB.271/11/2).

26. GB.270/LILS/WP/PRS/1/2 and GB.271/LILS/WP/PRS/2. The following Conventions were recommended for possible revision and inclusion in the portfolio of proposals for the agenda of the Conference: C.13 -- White Lead (Painting) Convention, 1921; C.27 -- Marking of Weight (Packages Transported by Vessels) Convention, 1929; C.119 -- Guarding of Machinery Convention, 1963; C.127 -- Maximum Weight Convention, 1967; C.136 -- Benzene Convention, 1971; and C.153 -- Hours of Work and Rest Periods (Road Transport) Convention, 1979; the following were recommended for short surveys: C.132 -- Holidays with Pay Convention (Revised), 1970; C.140 -- Paid Educational Leave Convention, 1974; and C.158 -- Termination of Employment Convention, 1982; it was recommended that States be invited to consider ratifying the following Conventions: C.95 -- Protection of Wages Convention, 1949; C.140 -- Paid Educational Leave Convention, 1974; C.152 -- Occupational Safety and Health (Dock Work) Convention, 1979; and C.156 --Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981.

27. GB.271/4/2.

28. GB.271/LILS/7.

29. GB.271/STM/4.

30. GB.271/TC/4.

31. GB.271/LILS/7.

32. GB.270/5 and MEIM/1997/D.4.

33. Reports of the Committee on Freedom of Association: GB.270/7 and GB.271/9.

34. Reports of the Committee on Freedom of Association: GB.270/7 and GB.271/9. See also minutes of the 270th Session, pages V/2-V/4. Establishment of the Commission of Inquiry on Nigeria: GB.271/18/5.

35. Russian Federation: GB.270/15/5; Senegal: GB.270/15/3; Uruguay: GB.270/15/6.

36. GB.270/LILS/6.

37. GB.271/LILS/9.

38. GB.271/TC/1.

39. GB.271/TC/2. For the Committee's discussion, see GB.271/15, paras. 9-46.

40. GB.270/TC/1.

41. See GB.270/12, paras. 25-43.

42. GB.271/TC/5.

43. GB.270/TC/2.

44. GB.271/TC/6 and Add.1

45. GB.271/TC/4. For the Committee's discussion of the global programmes, see GB.271/15, paras. 47-67.

46. GB.271/5.

47. GB.270/PFA/6.

48. GB.270/PFA/8.

49. GB.271/PFA/7/7.

50. GB.271/STM/1.

51. GB.270/2. Proposals on youth employment were conatined in GB.271/4/1.

52. GB.270/PFA/9 and GB.270/8/1, paras. 72-100.

53. GB.267/PFA/7 and GB.267/8/1, paras. 55-90.

54. GB.271/6.

55. GB.271/6(Add.1).

56. GB.271/11/1, paras. 24-34, and GB.271/LILS/4/1.

57. GB.270/6 and MEHS/1997/D.1.

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