The ILO and the UN system

The United Nations system includes 15 specialized agencies, 23 funds, programmes, research institutes and other entities plus numerous functional and regional commissions and subsidiary bodies. The ILO was the first specialized agency to join the United Nations in 1946.


The ILO participates in United Nations coordinating mechanisms and works with the rest of the UN family, at all levels, to support countries in their promotion and achievement of sustainable development.  In this context the ILO takes a particular responsibility for assisting member states to achieve SDG 8 – to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all – while also contributing to all the SDGs and targets, as appropriate, within the ILO’s mandate.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is built on the same principles as the Decent Work Agenda in that it is universal, inclusive, transformative and firmly based on the normative framework of the UN system. It is based on a vision that we should protect our planet for our children, who will learn and grow up to live healthy lives, in peaceful and safe societies with strong institutions and inclusive and sustainable economies, and where poverty and inequality are things of the past.

We must invest much more to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and end exclusion. We must help countries strengthen institutions so they are able to efficiently deliver services to people. Our support to countries must contribute to creating decent jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities, particularly for young people, and increase women’s participation in the workforce, empowering people to have stewardship over their futures.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

How the ILO works with the United Nations

  1. Positioning decent work and employment in the UN

    The ILO supports and takes part in United Nations system-wide coherence initiatives to position decent work and employment within the UN. In this work, the ILO contributes to UN coordinating mechanisms at all levels.

  2. UN partnerships

    Partnerships – in many different forms – help the ILO in providing more women and men with decent work opportunities all over the world, and a key part of this is working towards developing synergies with key players in the multilateral system.

  3. Working with the UN in countries

    The ambitious sustainable development agenda calls for the UN system to work together even more efficiently. It is important to ensure that the UN is “Fit for Purpose”.

Focus on

  1. The ILO and the General Assembly

    The General Assembly (GA) is the main deliberative, policy making and representative body of the United Nations. The ILO mainly works with its 2nd and 3rd committees, which address economic and financial issues, and social, humanitarian and cultural areas, respectively.

  2. The ILO and ECOSOC

    The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) examines international economic and social issues and formulates policy recommendations aimed at Member States and the UN system.

  3. The ILO and the Commission on the Status of Women

    The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the functional commission of ECOSOC exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, which is integral to the attainment of decent work for all.

  4. The ILO and the Commission for Social Development

    The Commission for Social Development (CSocD) is the UN body advising ECOSOC on key social development themes, including ageing, cooperatives, disability, employment, family, indigenous peoples, poverty, social integration and protection and youth – all key elements of decent work.

  5. The ILO and the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

    The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), replaces the former Commission on Sustainable Development meets annually under the auspices of ECOSOC or every four year as part of the UN General Assembly. The HLPF is the central UN platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015.

  6. The ILO and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

    The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is an advisory body to ECOSOC, which discusses indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

  7. All agreements with International Organizations