September 22, 2012
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is part of the United Nations system. It is an agency with a specific purpose. “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)
The ILO was established in 1919. At its conception it was led by the head of the American Federation of Labour (AFL) in the United States, Samuel Gompers. The ILO was comprised by representatives from nine countries including Belgium, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It brought representatives of government, employees, and employers together. It was the first of its kind. The constitution that was signed by the ILO was full of ideas that had been tested in the International Association for Labour Legislation. The ILO was created because of humanitarian, security, and political and economic considerations. The ILO has had over 187 conventions as well as recommendations on the labor issues as well as social issues, since its inception in 1919. It meets at a minimum of once a year. It examines and adopts the norms on an international level that encompass social and labor issues. It also addresses important questions on a universal level. The Preamble of the ILO’s constitution expresses the importance of social justice by securing peace. It addresses the exploitation of workers in countries that are industrialized. It seeks to increase the understanding of economic interdependence and the importance of cooperation to ensure working conditions in countries are similar among competing markets. The Preamble states that in cases of injustice hardship to large numbers of people that create unrest, improvement is required. It also states that the failure of a nation to establish and adopt humane conditions for workers stands in the way of other nations who do have humane conditions in place. The Preamble also recommends areas that need improvement such as the regulation of hours worked, regulations of labor supply, employee protection against sickness and injury, protection of young people and women, provisions for the elderly and the injured, equal work for equal pay, organization of vocational and technical education, and the principle of freedom of association.
The ILO’s main focus is protecting the rights of workers, encouraging decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection, and the strengthening of dialogue on work- related issues. The four main goals of the ILO are; formulating international policies and programs promoting basic human rights, improving working and living conditions, and increasing employment opportunities; creating international labor standards supported by a system to supervise the enforcement; programs of international technical cooperation and implementing them with other constituents in order to help countries put these programs into effect; and training, research, and educational activities to aid in the advancement of the ILO’s efforts.
The ILO has been successful in helping to establish fair and humane employment for workers across the globe. When discussing human and labor rights, one must consider the work of the ILO and all that has been accomplished. The ILO promotes exactly that, human and labor rights. These rights had been needed since the middle of the nineteenth century, but were addressed and established in 1919. It was needed then, and remains to be needed today. Some countries today still have inhumane working conditions, but things would be considerably worse if it weren’t for the work of the ILO. The ILO is located in multiple countries for this reason. They are available to ensure that labor guidelines aren’t violated and that workers get a