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International Labour Standards

The International Labour Organisation (the ILO) was created in 1919

primarily for the purpose of adopting international labour standards to cope with the problem of labour conditions involving "injustice, hardship and privation".

With the incorporation of the Declaration of Philadelphia Concerning the Aims and Purpose of the ILO ( into its Constitution in 1944, the Organisation’s standard setting mandate was broadened to include more general (but related) social policy, human rights and civil rights matters.

The ILO’s International Labour Standards (ILS) take the form of international labour Conventions and Recommendations. The Conventions are international treaties, subject to ratification by the Organisation’s 174 members states. The Recommendations are non-binding instruments which set out guidelines which can orient national policy and action.

Eight ILO Conventions have been identified by the ILO’s Governing Body as being fundamental to the rights of people at work, irrespective of levels of development of individual member states; (see: Fundamental ILO Conventions.)

The ILO has adopted more than 180 Conventions and 185 recommendations as well as a number of less formal documents such as codes of conduct, resolutions and declarations. For more information about the ILO’s International Labour Standards visit the web site of the ILO’s Department of Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work at

The Workers’ Activities Programme at the ILO’s International Training Centre in Turin conducts courses (both classroom-based and via computer communications) to help unionists understand the Standards, promote their ratification and lobby for countries to report on their implementation. The Programme includes a session on International Labour Standards in all its courses.

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