News & Events

Ireland elected to the Governing Body of International Labour Organisation

Ireland continues to play a prominent role internationally in the important arena of labour law 

Minister for Employment and Small Business today (13 June 2017) announced that Ireland has been elected to the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as a full member in Geneva for a three year term. It is the first time Ireland has been a full member of the Governing Body of the ILO since joining the Organisation in 1923.  

The ILO is a United Nations Agency and the only tripartite UN agency. It brings together governments, employers and workers, representing 187 member states across the globe. Its aim is to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all. The ILO gives an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes. 

Welcoming the historic news, Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen TD, said "This is an important opportunity for Ireland and Ireland's election as a full member of the Governing Body of the ILO for the first time shows the high esteem in which Ireland is held internationally.  The strong relationship we have with our Social Partners will be fundamental to our ability to play an active role on the Governing Body, during what will be an ambitious period in the ILO as it approaches its centenary year of 2019. The occasion of the ILO Centenary is being marked by the implementation of a range of initiatives, including on the Future of Work, End to Poverty and Women at Work. Having the ability to influence and lead in this forum will ensure that Ireland continues to play a prominent role internationally in the important arena of labour law.” 

Ireland's three year term on the Governing Body will commence on 17 June.


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Notes for Editors 

The ILO is a United Nations agency which deals with employment and labour market issues. Founded in 1919, it is based in Geneva. 187 of the 193 UN countries are members of it. Ireland became a member in 1923.  

The ILO has a unique tripartite structure, in which employers’ and workers’ representatives have an equal voice with those of governments. It delivers its objectives through the formulation of international policies and programmes, the creation of international labour standards, an extensive programme of international technical cooperation and training, education, research, and publishing activities.

Governing Body 

The Governing Body is the executive body of the ILO.  It decides on ILO policy, the International Labour Conference agenda, adopts the programme and budgets to submit to the ILC and elects the DG. 

The Governing Body comprises 56 Full members (28 Governments, 14 Employers and 14 Workers) with speaking and voting rights, and 66 Deputy members (28 Governments, 19 Employers and 19 Workers) with speaking rights only. 

Ten of the Full government seats are held by member states that are nations of "chief industrial importance" (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, UK and USA). The remaining 18 are allocated on a rotating regional roster agreed every three years among members. 

Ireland and the ILO   

The ILO was the first international organisation which the new State joined. Ireland’s links with the ILO can be traced back to Edward Phelan, a Waterford born UK civil servant who became the ILO’s first official following his work on the British proposal for the establishment of the ILO in 1919.

Ireland, through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, pays an annual contribution to the budget of the ILO. Ireland’s contribution to the ILO in 2016 was €1.5m.  In addition, through Irish Aid, Ireland makes a considerable contribution to the ILO's development function. Plans are underway to agree a further four year partnership 2017-2021 with an annual budget in the region of €2m. 

Centenary initiatives 

Ireland's term on the Governing Body coincides with an active and ambitious period in the ILO as its l Centenary year of 2019 approaches.  To mark the occasion, the ILO is implementing the following seven Centenary Initiatives; Future of Work, End to Poverty, Women at Work, Green Initiative, Standards Initiative, Enterprise Initiative and Governance Initiative.  


Results of the elections to the Governing Body of the ILO