International labour standards in Indonesia and Timor-Leste

Building roads in Timor-Leste
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International labour standards are legal instruments drawn up by the ILO’s tripartite constituents (governments, employers and workers) that lay down principles, rights and minimum standards related work and workplaces. These standards can be either Conventions, which are binding international treaties, or Recommendations, which are non-binding.

Once a country has ratified an ILO Convention it is obliged to report regularly on what it has done to implement the related standards. Procedures can also be initiated against member States that fail to comply with Conventions they have ratified. As well as supervising the application of Conventions the ILO also provides technical assistance to help member States ratify and observe Conventions. There are more than 180 Conventions in all, and of these eight are regarded as fundamental. These cover core aspects of work-related rights including freedom of association, collective bargaining, child labour, forced labour and discrimination.


Supporting core labour standards, and the ratification of the ILO Conventions that support them, is one of the aims of the ILO in Indonesia. These international standards play an important role in the elaboration of national laws, policies and judicial decisions, and in the provisions of collective bargaining agreement. Indonesia was the first Asian country and the fifth country in the world to ratify all fundamental Conventions. Since becoming a member in 1950, Indonesia has ratified a total of 19 Conventions.


Timor-Leste is a young country gradually recovering from the post-conflict disorder and the political crisis of the early 2000s. The peaceful Presidential election in 2012 laid a good foundation for political stability and economic development. To date, Timor-Leste has ratified four Conventions: Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) and Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).