Top menu

What is the International Labour Conference?

For the first time since much of the world economy was re-organised into global supply chains, the International Labour Organisation will feature a discussion about how that economy should or shouldn’t be regulated in the interests of decent work and social justice

The International Labour Conference (ILC) is the annual assembly of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO is the ‘labour arm’ of the United Nations and its job is to set the rules governing the world’s working conditions. Almost every country is a member, and each national delegation is split into four different representatives – two from government, one from labour and one from capital. Each representative has the right to vote independently on whichever measures are adopted, and all votes carry equal weight.

The ILC can therefore be understood as like ‘a world parliament of labour’. It adopts instruments ranging from ‘conventions’ to ‘recommendations’. These are part of the rulebook governing the world economy (along with things like trade treaties and the rules for membership of the World Trade Organisation). Recommendations are guidelines for the application of conventions or for national government action, while conventions are binding international laws that are incorporated into national legal frameworks whenever a country signs up and ratifies them. They relate to things as fundamental to everyday life as the freedom of association, abolition of forced labour, labour inspection, and social protection. So the basic labour rights you do or don’t enjoy will always be traced back to the discussions that take place at the ILC.

Read more