108th Session of the International Labour Conference

To mark the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Labour Conference (ILC) took place in Geneva in the Palais des Nations during two weeks under the title “Building a future with decent work”. This year the ILC was very special and was attended by thousands of delegates, speakers, experts and observers. More than 40 Presidents and Prime Ministers came to the ILC to express their support to the ILO. At the end of the Conference, a new Convention was adopted, to fight violence and harassment in the world of work.

The ILO was set up in 1919 after World War I with the aim “to bring Peace through Social Justice” and so it celebrates its centennial this year. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles that ended the Great War included a chapter on the creation of the ILO to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice.

The ILC is the ILO’s highest decision-making body. It meets annually and has the capacity to agree on new normative instruments, so-called Conventions. They become binding legislation as soon as they are ratified by Parliaments in the ILO Member States (187 countries worldwide). This is why the ILC is also called the “World Parliament of Labour”. The negotiations on a new Convention are held on a tripartite basis, by governments, employers’ and workers’ representatives. This is very unique and the ILO is the only UN Agency with a tripartite structure. This year, the ILC discussed a draft Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. On 21 June, the Convention was adopted, as well as a Recommendation and a Resolution on the subject.

The ILC is also the annual conference of the ILO, which is held every year around the same time. This year, more than 6.000 accredited delegates from around 180 ILO Member States, of whom many high level representatives, came together in Geneva. They discussed several of the most pressing issues facing the world of work. The Conference presidency was held by Mr Jean-Jacques Elmiger (Switzerland) and on the occasion of the centenary celebration some world leaders participated at the ILC.

The 2019 ILC can be called a Landmark Conference for three reasons:

It was held during the centennial of the ILO (1919-2019); more than 40 Heads of State and Governments addressed the ILC during the High-Level Visits. World leaders such as Chancellor Merkel, President Macron, Prime  Minister Medvedev as well as UN Secretary-General Guterres took the floor.

The ILC was very successful as a Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work was adopted, together with a Recommendation and a Resolution on the subject.

Zonta International took part in the 2019 ILC as observer and was represented by Els Van Winckel, main representative of the Zonta International UN Committee in Geneva, who was mentioned in the official list of ILC participants. Zonta International is on the ILO Special List of NGOs and has therefore the same status as NGOs with the highest status at the ILO.

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