The ILO and the UN system

The United Nations system includes 15 specialized agencies, 23 funds, programmes, research institutes and other entities plus numerous functional and regional commissions and subsidiary bodies. The ILO was the first specialized agency to join the United Nations in 1946.


The ILO participates in United Nations coordinating mechanisms and works with the rest of the UN family, at all levels, to support countries in their promotion and achievement of sustainable development.  In this context the ILO takes a particular responsibility for assisting member states to achieve SDG 8 – to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all – while also contributing to all the SDGs and targets, as appropriate, within the ILO’s mandate.

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. It is based on a vision that we should protect our planet for our children, who will learn and grow up to live healthy lives, in peaceful and safe societies with strong institutions and inclusive and sustainable economies, and where poverty and inequality are things of the past.

We must invest much more to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and end exclusion. We must help countries strengthen institutions so they are able to efficiently deliver services to people. Our support to countries must contribute to creating decent jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities, particularly for young people, and increase women’s participation in the workforce, empowering people to have stewardship over their futures.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

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”.