The governance initiative

The Governance Initiative aims to complete the reform of the ILO’s governance structures, to undertake the evaluation of the impact of the 2008 Social Justice Declaration, and act on the findings and outcomes of the evaluation. The initiative has the following four components:

Reforming the Governing Body

The reform of the Governing Body was aimed at improving the involvement of all Governing Body members in its deliberations, decision-making and agenda-setting process; enhancing transparency through regular consultations, and improving follow-up to Governing Body decisions. A reform package was adopted in March 2011, with subsequent reviews in 2014 and 2015. There are four pillars to the reform:
  • A streamlined Governing Body structure
  • An improved agenda-setting mechanism
  • Enhanced transparency and Office support to the tripartite constituents
  • Better documentation presentation and time management

Reforming the International Labour Conference

The principal objectives of the reform of the International Labour Conference are to: strengthen the Conference as the ILO’s supreme policy-making organ; better meet the needs of constituents and the international community; ensure that the Conference is efficient, transparent and consistent; and increase its visibility and authority by discussing relevant and contemporary issues that are important to the world of work.

A number of measures were piloted at the 2013 and 2014 Sessions of the Conference, and a reduction from three to two weeks duration was trialled and further improved in the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Sessions of the Conference. In November 2016 the Governing Body examined a set of draft amendments to the Standing Orders of the Conference to enable its effective functioning in the reduced two-week format, and further amendments aimed at modernizing and simplifying the Standing Orders.

The Governing Body at its 2017 November Session examined the additional proposed amendments for the simplification and modernization of the Standing Orders of the International Labour Conference and requested the Director-General to undertake inter-sessional consultations with the three groups for the purposes of an in-depth review of the proposed amendments and drafting of any additional amendments. It also decided that the progress of such consultations be reported to the Working Party at the 332nd (March 2018), 334th (November 2018) and 335th (March 2019) Sessions of the Governing Body with a view to finalizing a comprehensive package of amendments to the Standing Orders of the International Labour Conference possible approval by the Governing Body in March 2019 as part of the Governance Initiative.

In November 2014 the Governing Body adopted a strategic and coherent approach to the setting of the Conference agenda for the 2017-2019 sessions of the Conference. Consideration is underway for the continuation of this approach to the agenda setting for future Conference sessions beyond 2019.

Evaluating the impact of the ILO Declaration of Social Justice for a Fair Globalization

The ILO Declaration of Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, adopted in 2008, provides a contemporary and dynamic vision of the ILO’s mandate and objectives in the context of globalization, and in 2016 the International Labour Conference evaluated the steps taken to promote the implementation of the Declaration and its impact. An Office report entitled Advancing social justice: Reviewing the impact of the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization was prepared to facilitate the evaluation following which the Conference adopted a resolution on Advancing Social Justice through Decent Work (the resolution).

The resolution constitutes a powerful tripartite endorsement of the Declaration and continued commitment to the Decent Work Agenda. Through the resolution, the Organization and its tripartite Members have reaffirmed that the four strategic objectives – employment, social protection, social dialogue and tripartism, and fundamental principles and rights at work, with gender and non-discrimination also as cross-cutting issues – continue to be a highly relevant contemporary expression of the ILO’s mandate. The resolution underscores the critical importance of advancing an integrated approach to decent work and calls for strengthened efforts by the Organization, the Office and the tripartite constituents to achieve the full potential of the Social Justice Declaration.

As follow-up to the resolution, two papers--Proposals relating to modalities of recurrent discussions and Programme of work to give effect to the resolution on Advancing Social Justice through Decent Work--were submitted and discussed respectively at the 328th and 329th sessions of the Governing Body. In November 2017 the Governing Body adopted a new five-year cycle for recurrent discussions with the following sequence of strategic objectives: social dialogue and tripartism in 2018; social protection (social security) in 2020; employment in 2021; social protection (labour protection) in 2022; and fundamental rights and principles at work in 2023.

In March 2017 the Governing Body adopted a Programme of Work to give effect to the resolution through concrete actions in the following six areas: (i) standards system; (ii) recurrent discussions; (iii) strengthening the results-based framework and Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCP); (iv) institutional capacity development; (v) research, information collection and sharing; and (vi) partnerships and policy coherence for decent work. The Programme provides an overview and framework for coordinating and informing ongoing activities and new actions to advance decent work in a coherent and complementary manner.

In light of the Programme of Work, four papers were submitted to the November 2017 session of the Governing Body for debate and guidance: Framework for recurrent discussions; Partnership and policy coherence strategy; Knowledge strategy 2018-2021, and; Proposal for an integrated policy outcome reporting within the framework of the four strategic objectives. The Governing Body adopted the first three papers and decided to defer consideration of an integrated policy outcome reporting to further consultations.

Reforming the regional meetings

In March 2016 the Governing Body requested the Office to prepare for its November 2016 session a background document on the conduct of the Regional Meetings and to commence the review of their functioning and role.

The Governing Body subsequently considered a number of aspects including: role and mandate; composition; participation rights; duration, frequency and venue; format and working methods, and form and nature of the outcome document. The discussion so far has shown that constituents are generally satisfied with the current format and functioning of Regional Meetings as they have developed in recent years. There is also broad support to retain the four-day duration and maintain the necessary flexibility for the timing and periodicity of the Meetings.

At its November 2017 session the Governing Body discussed proposed amendments to the Rules for Regional Meetings and adopted the principle that each member State would be invited as a full Member to only one Regional Meeting with the Governing Body having the discretion of inviting on a case-by-case basis any member State as an observer to other Regional Meetings. At its March 2018 session, the Governing Body examined and adopt the consolidated version of the Rules for Regional Meetings which was late confirmed at the 107th session (2018) of the International Labour Conference. A revised version of the Introductory Note to the Rules for Regional Meetings will be submitted to 2018 November Governing Body session for review.