How the ILO Works

Tripartism and social dialogue

Underlying the ILO’s work is the importance of cooperation between governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations in fostering social and economic progress.

The ILO aims to ensure that it serves the needs of working women and men by bringing together governments, employers and workers to set labor standards, develop policies and devise programs. The very structure of the ILO, where workers and employers together have an equal voice with governments in its deliberations, shows social dialogue in action. It ensures that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in ILO labour standards, policies and programmes.

The ILO encourages this tripartism within its constituents and member States by promoting a social dialogue between trade unions and employers in formulating, and where appropriate, implementing national policy on social, economic, and many other issues.

The ILO accomplishes its work through three main bodies (The International labour Conference, the Governing body and the Office) which comprise governments’, employers’ and workers’ representatives.

The work of the Governing Body and of the Office is aided by tripartite committees covering major industries. It is also supported by committees of experts on such matters as vocational training, management development, occupational safety and health, industrial relations, workers’ education, and special problems of women and young workers.

Regional meetings of the ILO member States are held periodically to examine matters of special interest to the regions concerned.

International Labour Conference

International labour standards and the broad policies of the ILO are set by the International Labour Conference, which meets annually. Often called an international parliament of labour, the Conference is also a forum for discussion of key social and labour questions.

Standards supervisory system

International labour standards are backed by a supervisory system that helps to ensure that countries implement the conventions they ratify.

Governing body

The Governing Body is the executive council of the ILO and meets three times a year in Geneva. It takes decisions on ILO policy and establishes the programme and the budget, which it then submits to the Conference for adoption.

Partnerships and development

Since the early 1950s, the ILO has been providing technical cooperation to countries on all continents and at all stages of economic development. Projects are implemented through close cooperation between recipient countries, donors, and the ILO, which maintains a network of area and regional offices worldwide.

International Labour Office

The ILO secretariat, operational headquarters, research centre and publishing house, are based in the International Labour Office, Geneva. Administration and management are decentralized in regional, area, and branch offices.

Programme and Budget

The Programme and Budget of the Organization which sets out the strategic objectives and expected outcomes for the Organization’s work is approved every two years by the International Labour Conference.

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