ILO: Human Rights in the Working World
Title: ILO: Human Rights in The Working World

World Conference on Human Rights
Vienna, Austria
14-25 June 1993

International Labor Organization: HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE

The world's largest democracy abolishes bonded labor from
statute book and pledges to free every bonded worker.

Countries on three continents accept international aid to
eliminate child labor.

In countries of Africa and Central America, trade union and
employers' organization leaders are released from prison.

Ten thousand prisoners are freed from unlawful forced labor
in an Asian state.

These are just a few of the results achieved in recent years
by the human rights operations of the International Labor
Organization (ILO).

Createrd in 1919, on the conviction that social justice is a
vital component of durable peace, ILO has a long record in
defining, protecting and promoting human rights universally
in its field. For this it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
in 1969.

Basic principles

ILO's Declaration of Philadelphia (1944) states that:

*Labor is not a commodity;

*Freedom of expression and association are essential for
sustained progress;

*All human beings have the right to pursue their material
and spiritual development in conditions of freedom, dignity,
economic security and equal opportunity.

These principles, to which all 161 member States have
committed themselves, have influenced the evolution of human
rights actions globally. Several of the freedoms contained
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were included
at the request of the ILO, which is responsible within the
UN system for their protection. More than 75 ILO Conventions
are relevant to the achievement of the UN's International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

International standards

ILO translates its concerns into texts of two types -
International Labor Conventions, and Recommendations adopted
by the International Labor Conference (composed of
government, employer and worker representatives).
Conventions create binding obligations once ratified; even
in the absence of ratification, they serve as a standard of
reference for national law and prwctice.

Important human rights conventions include:

*Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to
Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87)

Establishes the right of all workers and employers to form
and join organizations of their own choosing without prior
authorization, and lays down a series of guarantees for the
free functioning of organizations without reference by the
public authorities. (Ratifications by February 1993 totaled
102, out of 161 member States.)

*Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention,
1949 (no. 98)

Provides for protection against anti-union discrimination,
for protection of workers' and emplyers' organizations
against acts of interference by each other, and for measures
to promote collective bargaining (117 ratifications).

*Forced Labor Convention, 1930 (No. 29)

Requires the suppression of forced or compulsory labor in
all forms. Certain exceptions are permitted, such as
military service, convict labor properly supervised, and
emergencies such as wars, fires, and earthquakes (130

*Abolition of Forced Labor Convention, 1957 (No. 105)

Prohibits the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor
as a means of political coercion or education, punishment
for the expression of political or ideological views,
workforce mobilization, labor discipline, punishment for
participation in strikes, or discrimination (111

*Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958
(No. 111)

Calls for a national policy to eliminate discrimination in
access to employment, training and working conditions, on
grounds of race, color, sex, religion, political opinion,
national extraction or social origin (112 ratifications).

*Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138)

Aims at the abolition of child labor, stipulating that the
minimum age for admission to employment shall not be less
than the age of completion of compulsory schooling (42

*Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100)

Calls for equal pay for men and women for work of equal
value (114 ratifications).

*Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (No. 122)

Calls for pursuit of a national policy aimed at promoting
full, productive and freely chosen employment (77

*Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169)

Provides for basic protection of these groups to maintain
their own ways of life without being forced into
assimilation (4 ratifications).


Sophisticated supervisory procedures help ensure that
ratified Conventions are applied in practice.

Reports from governments are scrutinized by a committee of
experts, and problems brought to light are then examined by
a special tripartite committee of the annual Conference,
which recommends action needed to overcome them. Other
procedures enable governments, delegates and employers' and
workers' organizatons to lodge complaints for examination in
some cases by a Commission of Inquiry. Special Governing
Body machinery exists to deal with freedom of association

The essential aim is to help countries meet the obligations
they have undertaken. The same principle applies to ILO's
worldwide program of techhical cooperation in such fields as
industrial relations, employment, working conditions and
social security, through which countries may attain the
conditions in which the ratification and application of
standards can realistically be undertaken.

Indigenous and tribal peoples

ILO Conventions Nos. 107 and 169 on indigenous and tribal
peoples are the only two international legal instruments
adopted specifically on the subject by the international
community. They reflect the ILO's concern, since 1921, for
promoting the rights of these peoples and enhancing their
position within national societies.

Adopted in 1989, Convention No. 169 sets goals toward which
governments should work, lays down guidelines for a
participatory approach to decision-making and provides
specific protections. Ratifications of Convention No. 169
will gradually replace ratifications of Convention No. 107.

The basic principle of the instrument is respect for the
cultures and ways of life of these peoples, and of their
right to continued existence and to development along
the lines they themselves wish. It orients their
relationship with the State, providing protection against
discrimination, protection of their cultural and religious
heritage and a requirement for impoact studies in relation
to development projects.

In the operational sphere, ILO actively propmotes legislative
reform and legal education and gives technical aid to a
variety of economic activities focusing on the cultural
specificity of indigenous and tribal peoples. The
Organization has played an active role in the creation of
the Regional Fund for Indigenous Development, set up by a
group of Latin American countries in 1922.

ILO is joint coordinator, with the United Nations, of the
current International Year of the World's Indigenous People.

Published by the United Nations Department of Public
DPI/1350-93 13789-April 1993-7M