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International Labour Standards

Countries heed call to ratify labour conventions

An International Labour Organization campaign to encourage countries to ratify international labour standards is bearing fruit.

Press release | 13 September 2019
Final record vote on the Convention concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work. 108th ILC Centenary Session. Geneva, 21 June 2019.
GENEVA (ILO News) – Sixty-one countries have ratified ILO Conventions or Protocols since the beginning of 2018, following a call for every member State to ratify at least one international labour standard to mark the ILO Centenary.

It means almost a third of ILO member States have heeded the call, amplified by the ‘One for All’ Centenary Ratification Campaign at the beginning of 2019.

“We have been very encouraged by the response of countries to the Centenary Ratification Campaign,” said Corinne Vargha, Director of the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department. “We sometimes take for granted the eight-hour working day, paid maternity leave or minimum wages but these are institutions rooted in our international standards. The ratifications coming in suggest these institutions add real value to our lives and that of future generations, but also that there is still room to do better.”

International Labour Standards are at the core of the ILO’s work. Since its founding in 1919, 190 Conventions and 206 Recommendations have been adopted by the International Labour Conference (ILC), on issues as varied as child labour, working time and the rights of seafarers. The latest are the landmark Convention and Recommendation on Violence and Harassment in the workplace, which were adopted at the Centenary ILC in June 2019.

The ratifications coming in suggest these institutions add real value to our lives and that of future generations, but also that there is still room to do better."

Corinne Vargha, Director, ILO’s International Labour Standards Department
While these international labour standards have improved the working lives of millions of people, many issues in the world of work remain. New forces are also transforming the workplace, including technological development, climate change, demographic shifts and globalization, making international labour standards as relevant as ever.

“The setting, ratification and supervision of international labour standards are the central instruments of the ILO’s pursuit of social justice. They remain key as we work together today to fulfill the commitment to sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, as outlined in the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” said Beate Andrees, Chief of the ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work branch.

Since the launch of the campaign at the start of the ILO’s Centenary year, 50 new ratifications have been registered and 44 ‘instruments’ have entered into force, after being ratified last year.

Some countries have ratified more than one Convention, Recommendation or Protocol. These have been spread across the regions:
  • Africa – 17
  • Americas – 9
  • Arab States – 2
  • Asia and Pacific – 13
  • Europe and Central Asia – 20
A record 23 ratifications were registered in June 2019, during the Centenary International Labour Conference.

Among these was the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182), which is one short of being universally ratified. When this is achieved, it will be the first universally ratified ILO Convention and one of the first in UN history.

The Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102), is two short of achieving its target of 60 ratifications by the end of 2019.