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Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch (FUNDAMENTALS)
Governance and Tripartism Department

4 route des Morillons
CH-1211 Geneva 22

Tel : +41 22 799 8181
Fax : +41 22 799 8771
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Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch (FUNDAMENTALS)

Mission and vision

Today, in the world:
  • 160 million children – 63 million girls and 97 million boys – are victims of child labour, accounting for almost 1 in 10 of all children worldwide; 79 million children – nearly half of all those in child labour – perform hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development.
  • 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage. 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
  • On average, women are paid 23 per cent less than their male counterparts. Hundreds of millions of people suffer from discrimination in the world of work because of the colour of their skin, their ethnicity or social origin, their religion or political beliefs, their age, gender, sexual identity or orientation, disability or because of their HIV status.
  • More than 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries that have ratified neither of the freedom of association and collective bargaining Conventions.

Such a situation cannot and must not continue. These issues are at the core of the ILO mission: in 1998, the ILO's member States expressed their shared commitment to uphold basic human rights at work by adopting the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch (FUNDAMENTALS) was established in 2013, bringing together the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and the Department for the Promotion of the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (DECLARATION).

FUNDAMENTALS mission is to serve as a centre of excellence on policies and action to support the realization of fundamental principles and rights at work. FUNDAMENTALS supports member States to fulfil their obligations to respect, to promote and to realize, in good faith, the fundamental principles and rights at work by facilitating the strengthening of relevant legislation and institutions including employers’ and workers’ organizations and the commitment of national duty bearers, rights-holders and enterprises.

Fundamental principles and rights at work provide the foundation on which equitable and just societies are built. They are the starting point for a virtuous circle of effective social dialogue, better conditions for workers, rising enterprise productivity, increased consumer demand, more and better jobs and social protection, and for formalizing the informal economy.

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining represent the primary vehicle by which this can be achieved, enabling employers and workers to negotiate key aspects of their relationship. Ending discrimination will unlock the potential of the millions of women, men and youth currently excluded or undervalued.

Eradicating child labour and ensuring that all children are in quality education, and that young people receive the training they need to fulfil their productive and creative potential, will contribute to ending poverty, to stronger economies and to a better future for all. Ending forced labour, in all its forms, means that workers will neither be robbed of their dignity nor their right to freely-chosen employment.

See also

  1. Integrated Strategy on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work 2017-2023

    The Integrated Strategy was developed by FUNDAMENTALS on the basis of several recent resolutions and declarations underlining strong international commitment to tackle violations of fundamental principles and rights at work; and following endorsement of the integrated strategy and action plan on fundamental principles and rights at work by the ILO Governing Body in 2016 and 2017. It explains the theory of change for development cooperation on fundamental principles and rights at work, milestones and expected results and shares some recent success stories.

  2. The teeth of the ILO - The impact of the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamentals Principles and Rights at Work

    by Kari Tapiola

    This book explains how the ILO faced the challenges of globalization to social and labour rights when the end of the Cold War and new information technology changed the practice of international economic relations and trade. It traces the reaction to the continued use of child and forced labour, discrimination and denial of trade union rights. The result was the 1998 Declaration of the ILO on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The ratification of the ILO Conventions on these rights has reached record levels.

  3. ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up

    adopted by the International Labour Conference at its Eighty-sixth Session, Geneva, 18 June 1998 (Annex revised 15 June 2010)