1-17 June 1999
A. Date, place and agenda of the Conference
At its 268th Session (March 1997) the Governing Body of the International Labour Office decided that the 87th Session of the International Labour Conference should be held in Geneva and should open on Tuesday, 1 June 1999. It will conclude its business on Thursday, 17 June 1999.
This session will be preceded by official group meetings on Monday, 31 May, all day and on Tuesday, 1 June, from 9 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. The groups will meet again if necessary on Tuesday afternoon in order to coordinate their respective positions pertaining to the various Conference committees.
The committees will begin their work on Tuesday, 1 June, or on Wednesday, 2 June, in the morning, as the case may be.
The various meetings of the Conference will be held in the Palais des Nations and at the International Labour Office. The opening sitting, in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations, will begin at 11 a.m. sharp on Tuesday, 1 June.
The agenda of the session is as follows:
Items placed on the agenda by the Conference or the Governing Body
B. Information on the agenda
I. Reports of the Chairman of the Governing Body and of
The discussion of the Report of the Director-General in plenary sitting, which will last one week, will begin on Tuesday, 8 June 1999.
The Chairman of the Governing Body will report to the Conference on the work of the Governing Body during the preceding year.
The Conference will have before it a Report of the Director-General of the International Labour Office, in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 12 of the Conference Standing Orders. This report will review the immediate priorities of the Organization and their implications for its future activities.
It is worth recalling in connection with the discussion of these reports that the Working Party of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office on the Programme and Structure of the ILO formulated a number of principles, in respect of which it expressed the wish that attention should be drawn to them in this memorandum. These principles, which are set forth in paragraphs 54 to 58 of the Fourth Report of the Working Party, are as follows:
54. Freedom of speech is the life-blood of the International Labour Organization. The Declaration of Philadelphia proclaims the principle that "freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress"; it thereby treats freedom of speech as the corollary of freedom of association in the context of the fundamental principles on which the International Labour Organization is based. There is no immunity from criticism for anyone C a government, an employer or a worker C in the ILO.
55. Freedom of speech includes freedom to reply; he who criticizes must expect those criticized to defend their views and conduct and must be prepared to accept similar criticism of his own views and conduct.
56. The fundamental purposes of the ILO, as defined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Philadelphia, embrace so wide a range, including social justice as a contribution to lasting peace and the right of all human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity, that the limits of debate in the International Labour Conference can never be narrowly circumscribed. The ILO has a continuing responsibility to focus attention on these objectives and criteria of policy irrespective of political considerations.
57. There is nevertheless an essential distinction to be made between the purpose and proper scope of such debate in the International Labour Conference and the discussion of political matters in such organs of the United Nations as the Security Council and the General Assembly, which are entrusted by the Charter with responsibility for political decisions in the United Nations system.
58. In periods of acute political tension the ILO has a twofold responsibility C to uphold the values of human freedom and dignity enshrined in its Constitution, and to circumscribe rather than extend the area of international tension by ensuring the fullest possible degree of continued cooperation in pursuit of the objectives of the ILO. Every delegate to the International Labour Conference therefore has an obligation to the Conference to keep these considerations constantly in mind, and the President has an obligation to ensure that the Conference does not lose sight of them.
Time-limit for speeches
So as to enable as many speakers as possible to take the floor, the Conference will have before it a unanimous recommendation by the Governing Body to set the time-limit for speeches to a maximum of five minutes.
Visiting ministers, delegates, observers and representatives of international organizations will certainly wish to bear it in mind when preparing their speeches, to avoid running the risk of being asked to resume their seats before they have concluded.
Provisional records of the Conference proceedings
The proceedings of the Conference will be published in provisional records in English, French and Spanish during the session. The plenary debate as well as committee reports concerning items III, IV, V and VI on the agenda will also be available on the Internet.
II. Programme and budget and other financial questions
The Conference will be called upon to examine and adopt the programme and budget of the ILO for the 2000-2001 biennium and to consider such other financial and administrative matters as the Governing Body may decide to bring to its attention.
III. Information and reports on the application of Conventions
In pursuance of articles 19 and 22 of the ILO Constitution, governments are required to communicate information and reports to the Director-General on the measures taken to bring the Conventions and Recommendations adopted by the Conference before the competent national authorities, and to give effect to the Conventions which they have ratified, as well as on the position of their countries with regard to the subject-matter of Conventions which they have not ratified and of Recommendations. Under articles 22 and 35, governments which have ratified Conventions shall supply the Director-General with information and reports concerning the application of such Conventions in non-metropolitan territories. Article 23 of the Constitution provides that the Director-General shall submit a summary of the above-mentioned information and reports to the Conference.
The Conference will consider the information and reports supplied by governments in pursuance of the above-mentioned articles of the Constitution together with the report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. At the 87th Session the reports submitted in pursuance of article 19 of the Constitution will deal with the Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 97), and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 86), as well as the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143), and the Migrant Workers Recommendation, 1975 (No. 151). In addition, the Conference will have before it the Special Survey of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations examining the reports submitted under article 19 by States which have not ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98).
IV. Child labour (second
The first discussion of this subject took place at the 86th Session of the Conference, following which, by a resolution adopted on 18 June 1998, the Conference decided that an item entitled "Child labour" should be included in the agenda of the 87th Session for a second discussion with a view to the adoption of a Convention and a Recommendation.
To give effect to that decision, and in accordance with Article 39, paragraph 6, of the Standing Orders of the Conference, the Office has communicated to governments the text of a proposed Convention and Recommendation concerning the prohibition and immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labour, asking them to state, after consulting the most representative employers' and workers' organizations, whether they have any amendments to suggest or comments to make (Report IV(1), International Labour Conference, 87th Session, 1999). A final report will be published in two volumes: Report IV(2A) will include summaries of the replies received and Office commentaries and Report IV(2B) will contain the proposed Convention and Recommendation which will be submitted to the 87th Session to serve as a basis for discussion.
V. Revision of the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised),
1952 (No. 103), and Recommendation, 1952 (No. 95), (first
Throughout the world, women's participation in the labour market continues to rise and women return to work after childbirth in even greater numbers. In many countries recent trends in law and practice reflect a desire to strengthen the protection of women workers' health and employment rights during maternity. In this context, the relevant ILO standards should be updated to take into account the achievements made in different countries' law and practice and provide guidance for further improvements.
The Governing Body therefore decided, at its 268th Session (March 1997), to place the Revision of the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952 (No. 103), and Recommendation, 1952 (No. 95), on the agenda of the 87th Session (1999) of the International Labour Conference. This item will be addressed under the double discussion procedure provided for by article 39 of the Standing Orders of the Conference.
To serve as a basis for the first discussion at the present session, the Office has prepared two reports. The preliminary report (Maternity protection at work, Report V(1), International Labour Conference, 87th Session, 1999) was accompanied by a questionnaire to which Governments have been asked to reply, stating reasons for their reply. These replies have been summarized in a second Report (V(2)) which also indicates the main points that the Conference may wish to consider.
VI. The role of the ILO in technical cooperation (general discussion)
Technical cooperation is a recurrent item on the agenda of the International Labour Conference. The resolution concerning the role of the ILO in technical cooperation adopted by the Conference at its 73rd Session (June 1987) called on the Conference to review the technical cooperation programme regularly, at least every five years. The item was last discussed by the Conference in 1993 and the Governing Body decided at its 268th Session (March 1997) to place it on the agenda of the 87th Session of the Conference.
The report prepared by the Office (International Labour Conference, 87th Session, June 1999, Report VI) begins with a critical appraisal of the ILO's strategic responses to its changing environment, through a review and quantitative analysis of trends in technical cooperation over the last five years. This is followed by a more substantive examination of technical cooperation activities concerning employment, poverty alleviation, democracy, human rights and workers' protection, including programmes implemented as follow-up to global conferences, and programmes aimed at assisting member States in applying international labour standards and establishing appropriate social and economic foundations at local and national levels. The report concludes with proposals for a comprehensive approach to building consensus and partnerships within the ILO itself, with constituents and with development partners.
The report will serve as a basis for the general discussion which is expected to provide guidance on future directions of the ILO's policy on technical cooperation.
In accordance with paragraph 1(1) of article 17 of the Conference Standing Orders, since the 1999 Session precedes the beginning of a biennial financial period, resolutions which are not related to items IV, V, or VI on its agenda may not be submitted to the Conference.
D. Election of Members of the Governing Body
of the International Labour Office
Election of Members of the Governing Body
In accordance with article 7, paragraph 5, of the Constitution, the period of office of the Governing Body is three years. As the last elections were held during the 83rd Session (1996), elections will be held during the 87th Session to select the Governments which have elective seats and the Employer and Worker members of the Governing Body.
In accordance with article 48 of the Standing Orders of the International Labour Conference, the period of office of the Governing Body commences at the close of the session of the Conference in the course of which the elections are held.
Information designed to facilitate the procedure of the electoral colleges is given hereafter.
Composition of the Governing Body
The composition of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office is determined by the provisions of article 7 of the Constitution of the International Labour Organization, which reads as follows:
1. The Governing Body shall consist of fifty-six persons
Twenty-eight representing governments,
Fourteen representing the employers, and
Fourteen representing the workers.
2. Of the twenty-eight persons representing governments, ten shall be appointed by the Members of chief industrial importance, and eighteen shall be appointed by the Members selected for that purpose by the Government delegates to the Conference, excluding the delegates of the ten Members mentioned above.
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4. The persons representing the employers and the persons representing the workers shall be elected respectively by the Employers' delegates and the Workers' delegates to the Conference.
5. The period of office of the Governing Body shall be three years.
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In addition, the Standing Orders of the Conference and the Governing Body include provisions for the appointment of deputy members.
Method of election
The method of electing Government members and deputy members of the Governing Body is laid down in article 49 of the Standing Orders of the Conference. This article reads as follows:
A RTICLE 49
Government Electoral College
1. Subject to the provisions of article 13, paragraph 4, of the Constitution and of Section D of the Standing Orders of the Conference, the Government electoral college shall consist of the government delegates of all Members of the Organization excepting those of the ten Members of chief industrial importance.
2. Each member of the electoral college shall be entitled to cast one vote.
3. The Government electoral college shall select eighteen Members of the Organization, the governments of which shall be entitled to appoint Government members of the Governing Body.
4. The Government electoral college shall also select twenty-eight other Members of the Organization, the governments of which shall be entitled to appoint deputy Government members of the Governing Body.
The method of electing Employer and Worker members and deputy members of the Governing Body is laid down in article 50 of the Standing Orders of the Conference. This article reads as follows:
A RTICLE 50
Employers' and Workers' Electoral Colleges
1. The Employers' and Workers' electoral colleges shall consist of the Employers' and Workers' delegates to the Conference respectively, excluding the Employers' and Workers' delegates of States disqualified from voting in pursuance of the provisions of article 13, paragraph 4, of the Constitution and of Section D of the Standing Orders of the Conference.
2. The Employers' and Workers' electoral colleges shall each elect by name fourteen persons as regular members of the Governing Body and nineteen persons as deputy members of the Governing Body.
Voting procedure of the electoral colleges
The voting procedure in the electoral colleges is laid down in article 52 of the Standing Orders of the Conference, which reads as follows:
A RTICLE 52
Procedure of Voting
1. Each electoral college shall vote by secret ballot.
2. The Chairman of each electoral college shall ask the representatives of the President of the Conference to read the list of delegates who have the right to vote. Each delegate shall come forward as his name is called and place his voting paper in the ballot box.
3. The counting of the votes shall be carried out under the direction of the representative of the President of the Conference assisted by two returning officers appointed by the electoral college from among its members.
4. No State or person shall be considered to be elected unless it or he has obtained more than half of the votes cast by the members of the electoral college present at the meeting. If after the first vote one or more seats remain to be filled, one or more further votes shall be taken as may be necessary, each member of the electoral college being entitled to vote for a number of candidates equal to the number of seats which still remain to be filled.
E. Communication of documents prepared for the
Every effort will be made to ensure that the documents submitted to the Conference are communicated to member States well in advance of the opening of the session.
It will be appreciated that the smooth working of the Conference depends on the delegates having the opportunity to study beforehand the documents prepared by the International Labour Office on which the discussions are based. The attention of governments is therefore drawn to the importance of ensuring that the reports sent to them on the various items on the agenda are distributed in good time to Government delegates, as well as to those representing employers and workers.
F. Composition of delegations
Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Constitution of the Organization provides that each delegation to a session of the International Labour Conference shall be composed of four delegates, namely two Government delegates, one delegate representing the employers and one delegate representing the workers.
In accordance with the provisions of article 3, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, each delegate may be accompanied by not more than two advisers for each separate item placed on the agenda. Items IV, V and VI are separate items on the agenda of the session. In addition, the item "Information and reports on the application of Conventions and Recommendations" is considered as a separate item within the meaning of the above-mentioned paragraph 2 of article 3, that is to say with a view to the appointment of advisers. In these circumstances each Government, Employers' and Workers' delegate to the 87th Session may be accompanied by not more than eight advisers.
Governments are requested, when composing their delegations, to give consideration to the importance of making arrangements for rep- resentation at the plenary sittings when such sittings are held simultaneously with the sittings of committees.
Representation of non-governmental delegates and advisers
Article 3, paragraph 5, of the Constitution provides that -
The Members undertake to nominate non-Government delegates and advisers chosen in agreement with the industrial organizations, if such organizations exist, which are most representative of employers or workpeople, as the case may be, in their respective countries.
In connection with this provision, the Credentials Committee at the 46th Session (1962) of the Conference, having before it cases where several representative organizations existed in one and the same country, made the following statement in this regard:
This article requires: (a) that there shall be consultations; (b) that these consultations shall be entered into with the most representative organizations of employers and of workpeople, in the country in question, provided such organizations exist; and (c) that the delegates finally appointed should be chosen in agreement with the said organizations.
Certainly, agreement cannot always be reached. But genuine consultations undertaken in good faith are essential. In Advisory Opinion No. 1 of the Permanent Court of International Justice C which relates particularly to countries where there are several representative organizations ... it is stated in particular with regard to the obligation laid down in paragraph 5 of article 3 of the Constitution, that --
The engagement ... is not a mere moral obligation. It is a part of the Treaty and constitutes an obligation by which the Parties to the Treaty are bound to one another.
The obligation is that the persons nominated should have been chosen in agreement with the organizations most representative of employers or workpeople, as the case may be. There is no definition of the word "representative" in the Treaty. The most representative organizations for this purpose are, of course, those organizations which best represent the employers and the workers respectively. What these organizations are, is a question to be decided in the particular case, having regard to the circumstances in each particular country at the time when the choice fails to be made. Numbers are not the only test of the representative character of the organizations, but they are an important factor; other things being equal, the most numerous will be the most representative. The article throws upon the Government of the State the duty of deciding, on the data at its disposal, what organizations are, in point of fact, the most representative ...
The only object of the intervention of industrial organizations, in connection with the selection of delegates and technical advisers, is to ensure, as far as possible, that the Government should nominate persons whose opinions are in harmony with the opinions of employers and workers respectively. If, therefore, in a particular country there exist several industrial organizations representing the working classes, the Government must take all of them into consideration when it is proceeding to the nomination of the Workers' delegate and his technical advisers. Only by acting in this way can the Government succeed in choosing persons who, having regard to the particular circumstances, will be able to represent at the Conference the views of the working classes concerned ...
The aim of each Government must, of course, be an agreement with all the most representative organizations of employers and workers, as the case may be; that, however, is only an ideal which is extremely difficult to attain ...
What is required of the Governments is that they should do their best to effect an agreement, which, in the circumstances, may be regarded as the best for the purpose of ensuring the representation of the workers of the country.(1)
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The Credentials Committee feels bound to appeal very strongly ... to all the Governments of the States Members of the Organization to conform strictly to the Constitution when appointing non-Government delegates to the International Labour Conference. Arbitrary choice of such delegates by the Governments from lists submitted by organizations of greatly varying sizes, without any effort at genuine consultation to reach an agreement with the most representative organizations, constitutes an abuse which, if it is not remedied, could lead the International Labour Conference into a situation which would be dangerous for the entire Organization ...
Furthermore, to ensure an equal representation of employers and workers on the committees of the Conference it is desirable that, so far as possible, equal numbers of Employers' and Workers' advisers should be appointed in each delegation.
The Credentials Committee at the 61st Session (1976) of the Confer- ence drew attention to the imbalance which in certain cases existed between the number of advisers to the delegates of each group. It once again urged governments to take greater account, when nominating delegations, of the proportions in the composition of the Conference envisaged by paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 3 of the Constitution.
Governments will no doubt wish to ensure that the delegations attending the Conference are appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, that they comprise four delegates and that they are fully tripartite. In this connection, the resolution concerning the strengthening of tripartism in the overall activities of the International Labour Organization which was adopted by the Conference at its 56th Session (1971) requests that member States be reminded that "they are obliged to send tripartite delegations whose members are able to act in full independence of one another", and that they be asked "when communicating the credentials of members of the delegations representing employers and workers, to state for the information of the Credentials Committee which employers' and workers' organizations were consulted and also to confirm that the travelling and living expenses of such delegates and their advisers are in fact being borne by the member State, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution".
As a result of a request made by the Credentials Committee to the Conference at its 79th Session (1992), governments are asked in the attached form for credentials to provide such confirmation or to state the difficulties which prevent them from wholly or partially covering the expenses referred to.
The attention of Governments is drawn to paragraphs 9, 10 and 11 of article 26 of the Conference Standing Orders which empower the Credentials Committee to verify the compliance of Governments with their obligations under Article 13, paragraph 2 (a), of the Constitution and to examine complaints alleging non-compliance.
Representation of women on national delegations
The ILO Constitution provides in article 3, paragraph 2, that when questions specially affecting women are to be considered by the Conference, at least one of the advisers should be a woman. It is clear that the questions considered at the International Labour Conference and other ILO meetings nowadays are of equal relevance to women and men. In spite of this, the proportion of women on national delegations has continued to be low.
Consequently, as early as 1975, at its 60th Session, the Conference asked in a resolution that women be appointed to delegations on the same basis and by the same standards as men. At its 67th Session (1981) it adopted another resolution, urging that efforts be made in all member States to include women in national delegations among both Government and non-Government delegates and advisers. Subsequently in a resolution concerning ILO action for women workers, adopted at its 78th Session (1991), the Conference called upon Governments and workers' and employers' organizations to include more women in their delegations to the International Labour Conference.
Delegates with a disability
Finally, it should be pointed out that since the premises of the Conference are accessible to disabled persons there is no physical barrier to their nomination as delegates or advisers. The Official Relations Branch of the International Labour Office may be contacted for additional information.
It is absolutely essential that, as laid down in article 26, paragraph 1, of the Standing Orders of the Conference, the credentials of delegates to the Conference and their advisers are deposited with the International Labour Office at least 15 days before the date fixed for the opening of the session of the Conference. As the Conference will open on 1 June 1999, the last date for the deposit of credentials is Monday, 17 May 1999.
In recent years, a number of delegations have not observed the deadline for the deposit of credentials, with the result that it has become extremely difficult to deliver delegates' admission badges in time for the opening of the Conference, to seat delegations in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations and to finalize the lists of committee members. As some 3,000 persons take part in the work of the Conference, it is of the utmost importance that governments comply with the above-mentioned deadline in depositing the credentials of all delegates and advisers. This would not only ensure the smooth running of the Conference but would also be in the interest of the delegations themselves.
Two kinds of form are enclosed with the letter of convocation: the form for credentials which governments are requested to return to the ILO within the required deadline and the registration form for participants. Governments are requested to send a copy of the registration form to each of the delegates and advisers appointed by them so that they may return them immediately to the ILO duly completed and signed.
H. Accommodation for delegations in Geneva
The International Labour Office does not have a hotel reservation service. It is therefore suggested that delegations to the Conference request the diplomatic representations of member States in Geneva or, where applicable, in Berne, to make the necessary reservations with hotels in the Geneva area as early as possible. Reservations may also be made through the:
Office du Tourisme de Genève
Route de l'aéroport, 10
CH-1215 Genève 15
Telephone: (41 22) 909 70 20
Facsimile: (41 22) 909 70 21
It is highly advisable to reserve hotel accommodation well in advance.
I. Entry visas for Switzerland and France
Entry visas for Switzerland are issued primarily by Swiss diplomatic representations abroad. Delegates to the Conference who require an entry visa should submit a personal request to the Swiss embassy or consulate in their country of residence. Delegates may wish to note that visas are issued upon arrival at the airport in Geneva only in exceptional circumstances.
The French Consulate in Geneva is not authorized to issue entry visas for France to temporary visitors to Switzerland without first referring the application to the French embassy or consulate in the applicant's home country.
Members of the delegations wishing to visit or stay in France during the session of the Conference should therefore obtain the necessary single or multiple entry visas for France in their own country before leaving for Switzerland.
1. Copies of Advisory Opinion No. 1 are available on request.
Updated by HK. Approved by RH. Last update: 26 January 2000.