First international treaty to address violence and harassment comes into force

ILO calls on Member States to ratify Convention C190

Press release | 24 June 2021
GENEVA/DHAKA (ILO News) – The first international treaty on violence and harassment in the world of work comes into force on 25th June 2021 – two years after it was adopted by the ILO’s International Labour Conference (ILC).

To date, six countries have ratified the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190)  – Argentina, Ecuador, Fiji, Namibia, Somalia and Uruguay. Ratifying countries are legally bound by the provisions of the Convention a year after ratification.

ILO Convention No. 190 provides the first international definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment. Together with Recommendation No. 206, Convention No. 190 recognizes the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment and provides a common framework for action.

Violence and harassment at work takes a range of forms and leads to physical, psychological, sexual and economic harm. Since the adoption of the Convention, the COVID-19 pandemic  has further highlighted the issue, with many forms of work-related violence and harassment being reported across countries since the outbreak began, particularly against women and vulnerable groups.

To mark its entering into force the ILO has launched a global campaign calling for renewed commitment from countries to ratify and implement the Convention.

“A better future of work is free of violence and harassment,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO.

“Convention 190 calls on all ILO Member States to eradicate violence and harassment in all its forms from the world of work. I urge countries to ratify the Convention and help build, together with employers and workers and their organizations, a dignified, safe and healthy working life for all.” 

An ILO-UN Women study found that 61.7% of men and women workers employed in the ready-made garment sector of Bangladesh experience harassment at work. Violence and harassment are some of the major factors leading to job turnover. The same study revealed that only women workers reported on sexual harassment.

“Violence and harassment including gender-based violence in the world of work should never be tolerated," said Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director of ILO Bangladesh.

“Proper implementation of the High Court Verdict, effective anti-harassment policies and their implementation at the factory and enterprise level, enacting a new law on prevention and protection against sexual harassment – all these initiatives will play a vital role in creating a conducive workplace culture where people can work in safety and dignity,” Poutiainen added.

“Ratification of C190 will reiterate Bangladesh’s commitment towards establishing decent work, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. This action will certainly help Bangladesh progress towards its LDC graduation and SDG 2030 goals. The ILO stands ready to support the Government of Bangladesh to formulate relevant laws, policies and regulations to prevent, address and eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work."