International Labour Stardards (ILS)

The ILO played a pioneering role in establishing human rights standards even before the United Nations was established and human rights were formally articulated. Since its creation in 1919, the ILO’s international labour standards have embodied the principles and values later reflected in the United Nations Charter (1945) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Following the UDHR, ILS continued to inspire the formulation of human rights in the two International Covenants on Civil and Political and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Today, ILS give expression to human rights at work, including the right to work; the right to social security; the right to safe and healthy working conditions; the right to fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value; the right to rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay; and the right to maternity protection.

Labour Rights are Human Rights

International labour standards are international law and form part of the international human rights norms and standards landscape. ILS provide the details for practical implementation of human rights obligations in the world of work. For example, the UN Covenants  proclaim the right to freedom of association, while the ILO Conventions No. 87  and No. 98  and the compilation of decisions of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association provide for detailed rights emanating from this fundamental freedom with regard to the right to organize for workers and employers.

Some ILO standards directly express human rights while others set benchmarks for the labour market institutions that are necessary for realizing human rights at work.

ILO and UN bodies monitoring the implementation of mutually supportive rights regularly cite each other’s decisions.

The ILO is closely engaged with the United Nations system, through initiatives such as the UN Secretary General’s Call to Action for Human Rights , with a view to promoting international labour standards as part of the human rights norms and standards which lie at the basis of the 2030 Agenda .

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