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ILO and today′s global challenges (Part 2: 1999-)

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  1. Key documents

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General (2012-)

Select to magnify the image“ If there aren't jobs, there can be no sustainable economic growth. If the economy can't grow, it can't create jobs. That simple logic wasn't apparent to policy-makers who applied austerity in Europe. It's not the only element of the economic malaise we face, but it's the quintessential centre of it all. ”
  1. Biography of Guy Ryder

Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General (1999-2012).

Select to magnify the image“There shall be a Director-General of the International Labour Office, who shall be appointed by the Governing Body, and, subject to the instructions of the Governing Body, shall be responsible for the efficient conduct of the International Labour Office and for such other duties as may be assigned to him. The Director-General or his deputy shall attend all meetings of the Governing Body.” (article 8 of the ILO Constitution)
  1. Biography of Juan Somavia

Inception of the Decent Work Agenda

“The primary goal of the ILO today is to promote opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity” (Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General).

Initiated in 1999 by ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, the Decent Work Agenda promotes a development strategy that recognizes the central role of work in everyone′s life. The Organization provides support in the form of integrated decent work programmes developed at country level with ILO′s constituents. These programmes set priorities and targets within national development frameworks and aim to tackle major decent work shortcomings through effective programmes that meet each of ILO′s four strategic objectives:

  • to promote and implement the standards and fundamental principles and rights at work;
  • to enhance the opportunities for men and women to obtain decent employment and wages;
  • to expand the scope and heighten the effectiveness of social protection for all;
  • to strengthen tripartism and social dialogue.
In his report to the 87th Session of the International Labour Conference, the Director-General recalled the issues inherent in the concept of decent work: “The ILO is concerned with decent work. The goal is not just the creation of jobs, but the creation of jobs of acceptable quality. The quantity of employment cannot be divorced from its quality. All societies have a notion of decent work, but the quality of employment can mean many things. It could relate to different forms of work, and also to different conditions of work, as well as feelings of value and satisfaction. The need today is to devise social and economic systems which ensure basic security and employment while remaining capable of adaptation to rapidly changing circumstances in a highly competitive global market.”

On 10 June 2008, at its 97th Session, the International Labour Conference adopted the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, which is to be implemented in the context of the Decent Work Agenda and its four strategic objectives.

Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182)

“This fundamental convention defines as a ‘child′ a person under 18 years of age. It requires ratifying states to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, including all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery […] The convention requires ratifying states to provide the necessary and appropriate direct assistance for the removal of children from the worst forms of child labour and for their rehabilitation and social integration. It also requires states to ensure access to free basic education and, wherever possible and appropriate, vocational training for children removed from the worst forms of child labour” (see Rules of the game: A brief introduction to International Labour Standards, p. 30).

In June 1994, at the 81st session of the International Labour Conference, a clear consensus emerged among ILO′s constituents to step up promotion of fundamental social rights. The World Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in March 1995, bolstered ILO′s efforts by inviting the governments to protect and promote “respect for the fundamental rights of workers”. It was in this favourable international context that ILO defined as “fundamental” the conventions dealing with matters considered to be fundamental principles and rights at work. On 25 May 1995, ILO Director-General Michel Hansenne, sent a letter to the Member States with a view to obtaining universal ratification of these fundamental conventions, of which there were seven at the time. The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998), a promotional instrument drawn up specifically to strengthen application of the fundamental legal principles for social justice, gave a substantial boost to the ratification campaign.

In 2008, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia drew attention to the importance of accelerated ratification of the fundamental conventions and proposed the goal of universal ratification by 2015. (See Ratification and promotion of fundamental ILO conventions, p. 1)

There are currently eight fundamental conventions:
  1. Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)
  2. Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87)
  3. Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)
  4. Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100)
  5. Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105)
  6. Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111)
  7. Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138)
  8. Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182)

  1. 1999-:
    ILO and today's global challenges (Part 2: 1999-)
    1. 1999
    2. 2000
    3. 2001
    4. 2002
    5. 2003
    6. 2006
    7. 2008
  2. 1919-1939
  3. 1940-1945
  4. 1946-1959
  5. 1960-1988
  6. 1989-1998

ILO Century Project

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The ILO and the Quest for Social Justice

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Last update: 23.02.2015 ^ top