International Labor Organization (ILO): Objective, Structure and Major Role – 1

Labour mobility across the nations has been in practice for long times. In course of time, this has led to international labour problems for various reasons and also underlined the need for understanding the problems of international labour. In 1919, the ILO came into existence as a solution to this problem.

The ILO was born as a result of the peace conference at the end of World War I at Versailles on April 19, 1919. Being an original signatory of the treaty of peace, India became member of ILO in 1919 Itself In fact, ILO is the only international organisation that survived the Second World War even after dissolution of its parent body ‘the League of Nations’. Its main concern is to make the world know that world peace is subject to be affected by unjust conditions of its labour. Thus, ILO deals with international labour problems

Objective of ILO

Formulation of international policies and programmes to promote basic human rights, improve working and living conditions, and enhance employment opportunities;

Creation of international labour standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations, backed by a unique system to supervise their application;

An extensive programme of international technical cooperation.

Training, education, research, and publishing activities to help advance all of these efforts.

To promote and realize standards and fundamental principles and rights at work;

To create greater opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment;

To enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all.


Some of the most important organisational structure of ILO are as follows:

  1. International Labour Conference (ILC)
  2. Governing Body
  3. International Labour Office (ILO).


This is the Apex body of ILO which makes labour policies for international labour. The ILC holds its sessions at a frequency not less than once in a year. The delegates from three group’s viz. the government, the employers’ and the workers attend ILC sessions in the ratio of 2:1:1 respectively. Each representative has a vote. The representatives from the Government are mostly ministers, diplomats or officials.

The conference is empowered to appoint committees to deal with different matters relating to labour during each session. Examples of such committees are the selection committee, The Credential Committee, The Resolution Committee, The Drafting Committee, The Finance Committee, etc. All committees except Finance Committee are tripartite in nature.

The functions performed by the ILC are to:

  1. Formulate international labour standards.
  2. Fix the amount of contribution to be paid by the member states.
  3. Decide budget and submit the same to the Governing Body.
  4. Study the labour problems submitted by the Director General and assist in their solutions.
  5. Appoint committees to deal with different problems during its sessions.
  6. Elect the president.
  7. Select members of the Governing Body.
  8. Develop policies and procedures.
  9. Seek advisory opinion from International Committee of Justice.
  10. Confirm the powers, functions and procedure of Regional Conference.


It is also a tripartite body. It implements decisions of the ILC with the help of the International Labour Organization. It consists of 56 members in the same ratio of 2:1:1, i.e. 28 representatives of the Government, 14 of the employers and 14 of the workers. Of the 28 representatives of the Government, 10 are appointed by the members of the States of Chief Industrial Importance and remaining 18 are delegates of the other governments.

Industrial population is the criteria for chief Industrial Importance. India is one of the ten states of chief Industrial Importance. The tenure of the office of this body is 3 years. It meets frequently in a year to take decisions on the programmes of the ILO.

The functions of the Governing Body are to:

  1. Co-ordinate work between the ILC and ILO.
  2. Prepare agenda for each session of the ILC.
  3. Appoint the Director General of the office.
  4. Scrutinize the budget.
  5. Follow up with member states in regard to implementation of the conventions and recommendations adopted by the ILC.
  6. Fix the date, duration, schedule and agenda for the Regional Conferences
  7. Seek as and when required, advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice with the consent of the ILC.

(3) International Labour Office:

This is the secretariat of the ILO in Geneva and is the third major organ of the ILO. The Director General (DG) of the ILO is the Chief Executive Officer of the Secretariat appointed by the Governing Body. He also serves as the Secretary General of the ILC. His tenure is for 10 years and extendable by the Governing Body.

The Director General is assisted by two Deputy Director Generals, six Assistant Director Generals, one Director of the International Institute of Labour Studies, and one Director of the International Centre for Advanced Technical and Vocational Training, Advisors, Chief of Divisions from 100 nations.

Following are the main functions of this office:

  1. Prepare briefs and documents for agenda of ILC.
  2. Assist the Governments of the States to form labour legislation based on recommendations of the ILC.
  3. Bring out publications relating to industrial labour problems of international nature and interest.
  4. Carry out functions related to the observance of the conventions.
  5. Collect and distribute information on international labour and social problems.
  • to promote and realize standards and fundamental principles and rights at work;


The mission of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is to promote social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, based on the founding principle that social justice is essential to universal and lasting peace.

Decent Work Agenda

As part of its mission, the ILO aims to achieve decent work for all by promoting social dialogue, social protection and employment creation, as well as respect for international labour standards. The ILO provides technical support to more than 100 countries to help achieve these aims, with the support of development partners.

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