Human Rights at Work

Human Rights and
International Labour Law
Missing link in human rights
Labour Rights usually omitted
from International HR study
Most human rights textbooks mention rights
at work in passing or not at all.
 But this is a vital and useful part of human
rights study and human rights work.
 A tool that should not be ignored.
Are workers’ rights human
Some try to classify them differently
 Collective aspects of workers’ rights trouble
some theoreticians
 Work-related rights merely a specialized
aspect of human rights more generally
 Often have a more practical relation to
everyday life than broad statements of
human rights principles
Integral part of broader HR
All basic UN instruments include workers’
rights directly or by implication
 But attention under these instruments has
almost always focused on civil and political
 Even bringing in ESC rights has usually left
detailed treatment to ILO.
Human rights emerge during
Atlantic Charter, 1941:
... they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form
of government under which they will live; and they wish to
see sovereign rights and self government restored to those
who have been forcibly deprived of them;
... desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between
all nations in the economic field with the object of
securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic
advancement and social security
Labour law developed for
Together with political rights, rights as
workers began emerging
 With changes in working relations came
increased awareness and need for protection
 First international human rights subject:
 International agreements on workers’ rights
from late 19th century
Standards on workplace rights
preceded others
League of Nations had excluded rights from
its work.
 ILO, also created in 1919, referred only to
‘right’ of workers to organize to protect
their interests.
 Standards adopted up to beginning of World
War II were based on theories of social
utility, not rights.
ILO Declaration of Philadelphia
Believing that experience has fully demonstrated …that
lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social
justice, the Conference affirms that (a) all human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex,
have the right to pursue both their material well-being and
their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and
dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity; …
 (c) all national and international policies and measures, in
particular those of an economic and financial character,
should be judged in this light and accepted only in so far as
they may be held to promote and not to hinder the
achievement of this fundamental objective;
UN Charter, 1945
 ... to reaffirm faith in fundamental human
rights, in the dignity and worth of the
human person, in the equal rights of men
and women and of nations large and small,
 ·· to promote social progress and better
standards of life in larger freedom,
ILO´s HR standard-setting
Before WWII, ILO adopted only Forced
Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)
 After WWII, began adopting series of HR
Conventions from 1948 – 1958
 UN began adopting HR Conventions only
in 1965 (except Supplementary Convention
on Slavery, 1956)
 Then CERD in 1965, Covenants in 1966 –
and split subjects
Other Human Rights Subjects
relating to workplace
See Arts. 6 to 8 of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights:
 Right to work (art. 6)
 Just and favourable conditions of work (art. 7)
 Fair wages and equal remuneration for work
of equal value;
Safe and healthy working conditions;
Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in
his employment to an appropriate higher level;
Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working
hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as
remuneration for public holidays.
Also indigenous and tribal peoples, migrants,
HIV/AIDS, etc.
Similar in regional standards, etc
European and Inter-American systems have
strong protections, Africa, Arab world and
Asia much less
 Increasingly incorporated by international
financial institutions, and in multi-bilateral
trade agreements, inter alia.
 Part of Ruggie business and human rights
At origins of ILO
ILO was created for the adoption of labour
 Earlier standards adopted under aegis of
Switzerland in 1906, for European States
– Night work for Women
– Conditions of work for sulphur match makers
Outbreak of World War I put a stop to this
ILO did not identify itself as a
human rights organization
When ILO was established, human rights
was not on the agenda
 Attention turned to UN with Universal
Declaration in 1948
 Adoption of the Convenants made a
conceptual division in human rights which
ILO did not share
 And an ”under the radar” approach …
ILO is a different institution from
other IGOs
Older – approaching 100 years
 Coherence of vision
 Two distinguishing features:
– Tripartite structure
– Adoption, supervision, promotion of
Tripartism as fundamental
ILO originality to have non-governmental
organizations alongside governmental
 Responded to contribution of workers and
employers in World War I
 Everything in ILO is tripartite – lends
realism, democracy
 Also influences governmental
ILO Structure
International Labour Conference
– Annual – over 4,000 delegates
– Supreme body, sets standards and overall
Governing Body
– Manages details of policy
– Supervises Office, adopts budget, elects DG
International Labour Office
International Labour Conference
 Annual
(except Maritime)
 Adopts standards, other instruments,
budget, sets major policy
 All Members: 2G, 1W, 1E
 In committees 1:1:1 division
Governing Body
28 governments – 10 permanent
 14 workers
 14 employers
 Plus deputies
 Constitutional reform: double size, no
permanent seats, but not yet in force
 Manages the International Labour Office
International Labour Office
Secretariat of ILO
 Geographical distribution
 Close to 3,000 staff around world
 Oath to ILO, not nations
 Technical work, research, statistics,
ILO as a rights institution
Origin: established to adopt labour
 No rights agenda for ILO or League of
Nations – functional – social justice=peace
 League and ILO up to 1939 adopted only
Slavery and Forced Labour Conventions
that are rights instruments, and neither
framed as such
Only in 1944 did rights appear in any
international instrument: ILO Declaration of
Philadelphia (incorporated into ILO
Constitution 1946)
 Followed in 1945 by UN Charter, in 1948
 Rights as instrument of peace-keeping and
ILO gets back to human rights
End of Cold War
 1993 World Conference on Human Rights
 1995 Social Summit
 Mid-1990s « social clause » discussion,
 1998 adoption of Declaration of
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
Basic Human Rights at
Work Subjects
(a) freedom of association and the effective
recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
(b) the elimination of all forms of forced or
compulsory labour;
(c) the effective abolition of child labour; and
(d) the elimination of discrimination in respect of
employment and occupation.
(Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights, 1998)
Purpose of standard setting
ILO was created to continue the standard-setting
work on labour and social matters already
undertaken before the First World War by
European states and the International Association
for Labour Law.
To regulate conditions of work and prevent
exploitation of workers
Has evolved with time also to encompass broader
goals of social policy
Forms of ILO standards
Conventions: International treaties, capable of ratification,
which upon ratification carry obligations of
implementation and of reporting for supervision.
– Protocols supplementing or modifying Conventions.
Recommendations: A form of international instrument
unique to the ILO, ”to meet circumstances where the
subject, or aspect of it, dealt with is not considered suitable
or appropriate at that time for a Convention”.
(Constitution, art. 19(1)(b)).
ILO Standards for Human Rights
Principal instruments: 189 Conventions,
203 Recommendations
 Regular reporting, with input from
employers’ and workers’ organizations
 Unified supervisory body – detailed
 Complaints procedures
 Supervision basis of assistance
Subjects of Standards
Freedom of association, collective bargaining and
industrial relations
Forced labour
Equality of opportunity and treatment
Elimination of child labour and the protection of
Children and young persons
Labour administration and inspection
Tripartite consultation
Employment policy and promotion
Vocational guidance and training
Social Policy
Subjects (continued)
Working time
Occupational safety and health
Social security
Maternity Protection
Dock work
Migrant workers
Indigenous and tribal peoples
Domestic workers
Other particular categories of workers
Some numbers – November 2014
Members States:
 Conventions:
– Plus 6 protocols
Recommendations: 203
 Ratifications of
nearly 8,000
Other ILO instruments
Declarations: adopted to express the commitment
of Members to a principle, idea or procedure, e.g.:
– Fundamental Principles and Rights 1998
– Social Justice/Globalization 2008
Resolutions: instructions by the International
Labour Conference to the Office to pursue action
Codes of practice: to provide guidance and best
ILO Supervisory System
Three tracks
The regular supervisory system (articles
19, 22 and 35), supplemented by:
Constitutional complaints
Freedom of Association procedures
Article 22: ratified Conventions
& procedural requirements
Government reports
Employers and workers
(art. 23)
Committee of Experts
Conference Comittee
Direct requests
All ratified Conventions:
general report every year
(except shelved Conventions)
12 priority Conventions:
3-year cycle for
detailed reports
All other ratified Conventions:
5-year cycle for
detailed reports
Cycle can be altered by:
workers’/employers’ comments
Experts/Conference comments
failure to report
Constitutional Complaints
ratified Conventions only
Representations (art. 24)
Governing Body
Complaints (art. 26)
State or Delegate
or GB
Commission of Inquiry
Committee of Experts
Freedom of Association
special procedures regardless of ratification
GB Committee on FA
Fact-Finding and
Conciliation Commission
If Conventions ratified, returns to Committee of Experts
after complaint examined
- if not, followed up by CFA
Progressive supervision
Examination by Committee of Experts
- direct requests remain in CE
- observations published, submitted to:
Conference Committee
- may decide to discuss individual cases
Representation or complaint
- then back to Experts
Article 33 to follow up complaints
Core Labour Standards
Widely Ratified
8 CLS by between 153 and 179 countries (2014)
Over 7,900 ratifications in all
Ongoing ratification campaign: letters, Conference
discussions, assistance
Campaign recently expanded to « governance »
Bases of ILO HR action
All action based on ILO standards and
Constitutional principles
 Strong supervision
 Supplemented by promotional activities
 Continuous follow-up
 Continuous review
 Assistance for implementation
ILO and UN Supervisory Systems
United Nations
189 Conventions
Unified technical
2,000 reports/year
Conference review
Complaints system
built in
9 Conventions
Different committees
elected by parties
15-25 reports/year
No review
Complaints systems
by protocols
Basic ILO HR Standards
Freedom of association and collective
Freedom of Association and Protection of the
Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87)
Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining
Convention, 1949 (No. 98)
Special procedures for FAS
Complaints by employers’ or workers’
 Even if the country has not ratified a
relevant Convention – based on
 Examination by Committee on Freedom of
Basic ILO HR Standards
The elimination of all forms of forced or
compulsory labour
Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No.
Protocol 2014 to expand action
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention,
1957 (No. 105)
Basic ILO HR Standards
The effective abolition of child labour
Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138)
Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention,
1999 (No. 182)
Basic ILO HR Standards
The elimination of discrimination in
employment and occupation
Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No.
Discrimination (Employment and
Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111)
Declaration on Fundamental
Principles and Rights at Work
Adopted 1998
Response to globalization
Promotional approach, geared to non-ratifying States
Assistance to implement principles and standards,
for all States
Declaration of Fundamental
Principles and Rights at Work
‘an obligation, arising from the very fact of
membership in the Organization, to respect, to
promote and to realize, in good faith and in
accordance with the Constitution, the
fundamental rights which are the subjects’ of
the eight ILO Conventions recognized as
Declaration on Social Justice for a
Fair Globalization (2008)
Response to uneven distribution of benefits
in globalization
 Brings human rights more fully into ILO
thinking, including ”Decent Work” strategy
 Repeats emphasis on fundamental rights,
adds stress on ”governance” instruments:
labour inspection, employment policy,
tripartite consultation
Importance of human rights
Not only for promotion of principles:
 ‘ensuring respect for fundamental principles
and rights at work results in undeniable
benefits to the development of human
potential and economic growth in general
and therefore contributes to global
economic recovery’ (General Survey 2012)
 There can be no lasting peace without social
justice. (ILO Constitution)
International Programme on the
Elimination of Child Labour
ILO’s largest assistance programme
Based on time-bound programmes
Large number of countries (nearly 90)
Significant results
Other subjects of ILO human rights
standards and assistance
Employers’ and workers’ organizations
 Gender
 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (C. 169)
 Social finance
 Labour legislation and administration
 Employment promotion
 Corporate social responsibility
 ……et al.