International Labour Organization (ILO)

© United Nations

International Labour Organization, ILO was founded in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1946 it became a specialized agency of the UN. The ILO is headquartered in Geneva and has a system of field offices around the world.


The ILO is a labour organization with the goal of improving conditions for workers around the world. This is to be achieved by

  • creating strategies to promote basic human rights
  • improving labour standards in the workplace as well as living conditions
  • increasing employment opportunities.


The ILO has a unique tripartite structure, where member states are represented not only by governments but include delegates of employee and employer associations.

The ILO consists of three main bodies:

  1. The International Labour Conference
  2. The Governing Body
  3. International Labour Office.

The International Labour Conference

The International Labour Conference is the supreme body of the ILU. Delegations from all member states meet annually in June to

  • discuss social and labour questions
  • establish and approve international labour standards
  • adopt the working programmes and budget
  • elect the Governing Body.

One of the most important tasks of the Labour Conference is to adopt conventions and recommendations which will form international labour law.

The Governing Body

The Governing Body is the executive organ. It decides on policy, controls the International Labour Office and elects the Director-General.

The International Labour Office

The International Labour Office is the ILO secretariat with administrative and information services.


Databases and Indexes

A number of relevant databases can be accessed through the ILO website:

  • Child Labour Statistics compiles websites on national and international statistics. 
  • ILOSTAT. Database of labour statistics that provides annual and infra-annual labour market statistics for over 100 indicators and 230 countries, areas and territories. It includes data series from LABORSTA.
  • LABORSTA is a database for global labour statistics. This database is not being updated and will gradually be replaced with ILOSTAT.
  • NORMLEX is a information system providing open access to the latest information on ILO international labour standards, as well as national labour and social security laws. It includes the NATLEX database and information contained in the APPLIS, ILOLEX and Libsynd databases.
  • Labordoc is the online catalogue of the ILO Library with an extensive collection of references to books, articles and reports in the social and labour fields. 
Copyright © 2014 | Dag Hammarskjöld Library | Latest update: 31/03/2017