92nd International Labour Conference Opens on 1 June Delegates to Shape ILO Role for Fair Globalization, Dicsuss Freedom of Association, Migration, and Update Labour Standards

The annual Conference of the ILO gathers in Geneva to craft a new role for the tripartite labour body in shaping a fair and equitable globalization for all, focusing on Freedom of Association, Migration, and updating Labour Standards.

Press release | BANGKOK | 28 May 2004

BANGKOK (ILO News) – Heads of States and government, ministers of labour and senior representatives of workers and employers will gather in Geneva on 1-17 June at the annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to craft a new role for the tripartite labour body in shaping a fair and equitable globalization for all.

In addition to the global economy, more than 3,000 delegates representing the ILO’s 177 member States at the 92nd International Labour Conference will also pursue new multilateral policies for the world’s growing number of migrant workers, complete a new standard on human resource development, review the state of fundamental rights of workers and employers and the working conditions in the world’s fishing sector and discuss the situation of workers in the Occupied Arab Territories, forced labour in Myanmar and rights at work in other countries.

The issue of globalization is the main theme on 7 June when H. E. Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland and H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, President of Tanzania, will present the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization1 which they co-chaired. Also scheduled to speak are H.E. Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand and H.E. Georgi Parvanov, President of Bulgaria and representatives of the ILO tripartite partners.

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia will address the Conference twice, first on 1 June with an overview of ILO issues and concerns, and again on 7 June when he will elaborate on the issue of the ILO’s approach to the need to develop new policies on globalization with a presentation of his report, entitled A fair globalization. The role of the ILO. The report is a follow-up to the report of the World Commission that called in February for an urgent “rethink” of current policies and institutions of the governance of globalization.

“The Commission’s report places the ILO at a crossroads. It has made a convincing case that the only sustainable globalization will be one founded on fairness”, Mr. Somavia says in the report. “Within the slowly emerging system of global governance, the ILO has a leading role to play in promoting decent work for all… Decent work has to become a global goal, not just an ILO goal”.

Also on the 1st of June, the Conference will elect the Conference officers.

Working agenda

Conference Committees are set to consider a host of key issues affecting working conditions and human resources development.

The Committee on Migrant Workers will have a general discussion on the basis of an ILO report. Towards a fair deal for migrant workers in the global economy says that the number of migrants crossing borders in search of employment and human security – some 86 million adults today – is expected to increase rapidly in the coming decades due to the failure of globalization to provide jobs and economic opportunities where people are born and often prefer to live.

The Conference will hold a second discussion on a new international labour standard on human resources development. This new instrument is expected to replace the ILO Human Resources Development Recommendation (No. 150), which was adopted in 1975. It will reflect new approaches to life-long learning and training that many countries are adopting.

The Committee on Work in the Fishing Sector will have a first discussion on new international labour standards revising the seven existing ILO standards concerning fishing (five Conventions and two Recommendations). Reflecting the changes in the sector over the last 40 years, the revision intends to achieve more widespread ratification of the relevant ILO standards and reach a greater portion of the world’s fishers, particularly those working on smaller vessels.

During the discussions in the plenary, tripartite delegates will also address the latest report of the ILO on the situation of workers in the Occupied Arab Territories and a report on implementation of the ILO programme in 2002-3.

On 10 June, the Plenary Session of the Conference will be devoted to a discussion of the ILO’s Global Report on freedom of association entitled “Organizing for social justice.” The report shows that despite continued threats to workers and employers seeking to organize – including killings, detention and violence – the broad, global picture of respect for fundamental rights at work is on balance improving. The Global Report is issued under the follow-up of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998, and is aimed at producing an action-plan for the next four years.

The Conference will also discuss the situation of forced labour in Myanmar in its Committee on the Application of Standards. An update on recent developments will be provided to the Committee by the ILO liaison officer ad-interim in Yangon.

The World Day Against Child Labour, to be marked on 11 June, will focus attention on the plight of domestic child labourers. A panel event in Geneva will discuss the latest ILO/IPEC report Helping Hands or Shackled Lives? Understanding child domestic labour and responses to it. All over the world, representatives of governments, employers and workers, children and their communities will participate in TV forums, conferences, exhibitions and other events.

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The role of the International Labour Conference is to adopt and oversee compliance with international labour standards, establish the budget of the Organization and elect members of the Governing Body. Since 1919, the Conference has served as a major international forum for debate on social and labour questions of worldwide importance.

The Conference is expected to draw more than 3,000 delegates including labour ministers and leaders of workers’ and employers’ organizations from most of the ILO’s 177 member States. Each member country has the right to send four delegates to the Conference: two from government and one each representing workers and employers, each of whom may speak and vote independently.


(1) A Fair Globalization: Creating Opportunities for All, World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, published, International Labour Office, Geneva 2004, ISBN 92-2-115426-2.

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