The 109th Session of International Labour Conference ends its first sitting

The June segment of the 109th International Labour Conference (ILC) was held virtually for the first time from 3 to 19 June, 2021. The global event is divided into two sittings, with the second sitting to take place from 25 November to 11 December this year.

News | 30 June 2021
by Dennis Zulu, Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean

An estimated 4,500 delegates took part in the online ILC, including 171 ministers and vice-ministers as well as high-level representatives from workers and employers from 181 ILO member States.

Ambassador Omar Zniber, of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office, was elected President of the Conference and was supported by three elected Vice-Presidents including Ambassador Chad Blackman of Barbados who represented the Government group.

Some of the notable speakers included Pope Francis and US President Joe Biden, who addressed the World of Work Summit held within the duration of the Conference. The Summit focused on the need for a global response to the COVID-19 crisis and the action required build a better future of work.

A Global Call to Action outlining measures to create a human-centred recovery from the pandemic to avoid long-term scarring of economies and societies was agreed to and adopted by the ILO’s 187 member States. It commits countries to ensuring that their economic and social recovery from the crisis is “fully inclusive, sustainable and resilient.” The Call to Action is anchored in the ILO’s Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, adopted at the 2019 ILC.

Other notable outcomes of the Conference included the adoption of the report of its Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS), which adopted conclusions on the application of specific ILO Conventions in 19 countries.

The Conference also adopted conclusions that outlined a framework for urgent action towards universal, adequate, comprehensive and sustainable social protection systems that are adapted to developments in the world of work. This followed a discussion on social protection focused on the impact of COVID-19 and on the rapid changes occurring in the world of work.

Delegates also voted to adopt the ILO Programme and Budget for the 2022-23 biennium, which was designed to respond effectively to the immediate circumstances and challenges confronting the world of work, and to carry forward the longer-term objectives that the ILO has set for the substance and the delivery of its activities.

Though held virtually, the ILC did achieve some remarkable results that illustrated the resolve and commitment of ILO member States to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic.