The ILO and the UN system

The United Nations development system (UNDS) includes 15 specialized agencies, 23 funds, programmes, research institutes and other entities in addition to numerous functional and regional commissions and subsidiary bodies. In this context the ILO takes a particular interest in and responsibility for assisting member States to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 – to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, social justice and decent work for all – while also contributing to the realisation of all the SDGs and targets.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is built on the same principles as the Decent Work Agenda in that it is universal, inclusive, transformative and firmly based on the normative framework of the UN system. Additionally, the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work also provides guidelines for a human-centred approach to the future of work with international initiatives and cooperation.

The UN and the ILO


Since 2017, the UN has been undergoing a reform process that aims to strengthen the cooperation, coherence and results-based orientation of the UNDS at the country, regional and global levels in support of the 2030 Agenda. As a specialized agency of the UN, the ILO is actively involved in UN reform to ensure that the Decent Work agenda remains integrated in new policy frameworks and that the value of tripartism – working with Governments and workers’ and employers organizations – as well as the role of social partners are highlighted throughout the process. These efforts aim to ensure that ILO collaborates with other members of the UN system to ‘deliver as one,’ while also fully valuing the unique and complementary contributions of each member of the UNDS.

From 2017-2019 the UN contributed nearly US$89.7 million to ILO interventions, making it the third largest contributor of voluntary funding to the ILO for this period.

With support from nearly 30 UN partners, ILO implemented approximately 200 projects from 2017- 2019 across Africa, the Arab States. Europe and Central Asia, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas regions in support of ILO’s outcomes as well as the SDGs.

UN support to ILO actions


View the UN's portfolio in the Development Cooperation Dashboard

Partnership for Decent Work


The ILO has formed close partnerships with a range of UN entities to promote decent work and social justice for all women and men. Within this framework, ILO projects implemented with the financial support of organizations in the UN system account for around eight per cent of the ILO’s total active development cooperation projects. The ILO also plays a key role in range of different Joint UN Programmes and harnesses the potential of UN Multi-Partner Trust Funds to bring decent work to all.

How the ILO works with the United Nations

  1. Positioning decent work and employment in the UN

    The ILO supports and takes part in United Nations system-wide coherence initiatives to position decent work and employment within the UN. In this work, the ILO contributes to UN coordinating mechanisms at all levels.

  2. UN partnerships

    Partnerships – in many different forms – help the ILO in providing more women and men with decent work opportunities all over the world, and a key part of this is working towards developing synergies with key players in the multilateral system.

  3. Working with the UN in countries

    The ambitious sustainable development agenda calls for the UN system to work together even more efficiently. It is important to ensure that the UN is “Fit for Purpose”.