International Labour Organization - A Century in the Pursuit of Social Justice

News 03/06/2019

International Labour Organization - A Century in the Pursuit of Social Justice

International Geneva will experience a historical moment this year when the ILO celebrates its Centenary. This moment provides an opportune moment to pause, reflect and recall all the steps taken and look ahead. The ILO’s topical issue for the Centenary is the future of work.  

Over the course of a century, the ILO – with its tripartite constituents and other collaborators – have promoted social justice and decent work.

The ILO’s Centenary year provides a good opportunity to reflect on how it best pursues social justice and contributes to achieving sustainable development, draws inspiration from past achievements, and looks ahead with confidence to renew and reinvigorate its mandate.

Like every other organization seeking to maintain its relevance and seek further impact, the ILO should go on challenging itself. Are the current ways of working and governance structures sufficient and/or dynamic enough to meet contemporary transformations in the world of work? Are current international labour standards up to date, and are they having the desired impact? Or, are new forms of governance required?

The concrete commitment of international labour standards is not measured by the number of their ratifications, but by their implementation in domestic law and practice.

A brighter future of work?

The world of work is not yet fair or decent to everyone. Demographic change, digitalization, climate change and the informal economy are shaping the working life, and in doing so setting a challenging agenda for the ILO.

The Global Commission’s report ‘Work for a Brighter Future’ was published at the opening ceremony of the ILO Centenary in Geneva on 22 January 2019. According to the report, there is still a great demand for social justice and decent work as well as for the basic values of working life in the global labor market.

In response to the key drivers of change in the environment of work, the report emphasizes a human-centered future for work that focuses on lifelong learning and skills development, strengthening the institutions of work, and sustainable work.

For international Geneva, one interesting recommendation in the report is the further strengthening of the substantive joint work between different organizations across the wider multilateral system, especially between the WTO, the Bretton Woods institutions and the ILO.

The challenges recognized by the report are very similar to those highlighted in Finland, like in the publication ‘Opportunities for Finland’, which is the joint outlook of the Permanent Secretaries of the ministries.

From challenges to opportunities

Both reports recognize the importance of promoting equality, sustainable growth and safe working life. Complex and interconnected phenomena of change require extensive collaboration both in the national and global arena. Also, taking into account the complexity of the challenges, the opportunities should be seek for links and synergies between different policy agendas, such as trade, financial, economic and social policies.

The ongoing UN reform agenda also touches upon the ILO, and at the same time offers the opportunity to raise the profile of labour and working life issues in the international fora and cooperation.

In Finnish, the word ‘ilo’ means ‘joy’. Thus, Finland is absolutely delighted to participate actively in ILO’s Centenary and to highlight the importance of work and working life issues. Finland shall organize ILO Centenary events both in Finland and in Geneva.

Altogether, the year 2019 provides us with an opportunity to take the next necessary steps towards more decent and sustainable world of work – for all.

Antti Närhinen, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Finland, Geneva


Global Commission’s report

Opportunities for Finland publication

ILO’s webpage

Twitter #ilo or #ilo100

Article in Finnish, almost with the same content, see webpages of Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Uutinen suomeksi lähes samalla sisällöllä, ks. ulkoministeriön internet-sivustot: