As the International Labour Organization (ILO) celebrates its 100th anniversary, it is a timely moment for it to look back and reflect on its history.
The ILO was created in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles in the wake of World War I – reflecting the belief that universal and lasting peace would only be attainable if it was based on social justice.
Since then, the ILO has played a role in fundamental historical junctures – the Great Depression, decolonisation, the victory over apartheid in South Africa.
Today, the ILO plays a leading role in building a productive and ethical framework for a fair globalisation, which mirrors its mission to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.
ILO is, in fact, the only tripartite UN agency which brings together workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of social partners are closely reflected in labour standards, and in shaping policies and programmes.
Think ILO and think of the organisation that brought you the laws to end child labour, the laws to end forced labour, that brought you safety at work, the organisation that brought you fundamental principles and rights at work.
2019 is a year of celebration for ILO.
Multiple commemorative events are taking place all around the world to highlight the organisation’s achievements and the role it plays in everyone’s lives.
One of these was a dedicated event on promoting decent work and road safety for truck drivers of countries in the greater Mekong region in South East Asia.
Indeed, decent work deficits, concerns regarding road safety, the shortage of skilled professional drivers, pressure on the supply chain from economic employers and considerable challenges with cross-border transport can hold back the development and sustainability of the businesses of mobility and logistics.
To address these issues, the ILO is promoting the development and alignment of national regulations applicable to the sector, including working time regulation and enforcement, transit and insurance documents, vehicle configurations and import requirements, the carriage of dangerous goods, training and licensing standards.
It also aims to enhance working conditions, diversity and welfare facilities for truck drivers, with a view to also address shortages of skilled truck drivers and acknowledging the importance of tried and tested UN transport facilitation conventions.
But this special year for the ILO is just beginning.
On 22 January 2019, ILO’s centrepiece took to the stage – the launch of the report of its Global Commission on the Future of Work.
This will be followed by the Centenary International Labour Conference in mid-June to adopt new landmark standards to fight violence and harassment in the world of work.
ILO is embarking on a new phase of its ongoing development and there will undoubtedly be many opportunities, and of course challenges, ahead.
But this is a great way to start its second century – Happy Birthday, ILO!
Picture 1: Guy Ryder, Director-General, ILO.
Picture 2: ILO meeting in Bangkok, 15-17 January 2019 with representatives of governments, employers and workers from six Great Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) member States: Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. Organized under the leadership of Alette van Leur, Director Sectoral Activities, ILO.
With the contribution of Janet Waring, Jens Hügel and John Kidd.