The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the only tripartite U.N. agency since 1919 and became the first specialised agency of the UN in 1946.  It brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all.  The Governing Body (GB) is the executive body meeting triennially making decisions on policy, International Labour Conference agenda, draft Programme and Budget submission to the Conference, and elects the Director-General.

Composed of 56 titular government members (28 Governments, 14 Employers and 14 Workers) and 66 deputy members (28 Governments, 19 Employers and 19 Workers), 10 of the titular seats are permanently held by States of chief industrial importance (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States). The other Government members are elected by the Conference every three years. The Employer and Worker members are elected in their individual capacity. Australia is among the founding member States and currently a significant donor to the ILO.

GENDER and the ILO

The Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch (GED), part of the Conditions of Work and Equality Department of the International Labour Office, is responsible for promoting equality and respect for diversity in the world of work.
GED expertise focuses on issues related to equal opportunities and treatment for all women and men in the world of work, and eliminating discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, indigenous identity and disability. The Branch provides policy advice, tools, guidance and technical assistance to constituents including with respect to promoting more inclusive workplaces, and ensuring that policies, programmes and institutions are gender-responsive. GED coordinates the ILO Action Plan for Gender Equality, which is the results-based tool for operationalizing the 1999 policy on gender equality and mainstreaming in the International Labour Office.

Australia and the ILO

The cooperation between Australia and ILO is channeled through bilateral cooperation agreements with the government through Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Australian Aid at country level.

There is an annual Conference that establishes and adopts international labour standards and is a forum for discussion of key social and labour questions. It brings together governments’, workers’ and employer’s delegates of the ILO member States. Each member State is represented by a delegation consisting of two government delegates, an employer delegate, a worker delegate, and their respective advisers. Many of the government representatives are cabinet ministers responsible for labour affairs in their own countries. Employer and Worker delegates are nominated in agreement with the most representative national organisations of employers and workers.

The ILO Decent work and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development

It is estimated that over 600 million new jobs need to be created by 2030, to keep pace with the growth of the global working age population. Around 40 million per year, the need to improve conditions for some 780 million people earning $USD2 a day highlights the importance of decent work  in achieving sustainable development highlighted Goal 8, which aims to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.

The ILO Decent Work for SDGs Notes Series

Ratifications for Australia

National Legislation


SDG targets and related Thematic Areas

Useful Links