Publications on International Labour Standards

Key publications on International Labour Standards

Rules of the Game: an introduction to standards-related work of the ILO (Centenary Edition 2019)
2019 - A brief presentation of the ILO’s standards policy with a view to facilitating understanding and ownership by the ILO’s traditional constituents, as well as the United Nations system, non-specialists and the broader public.
Compendium of international labour conventions and recommendations
2015 - Presents, by subject matter, the ILO Conventions that have not been revised, replaced or considered obsolete, and indicates their current status.
Les normes internationales du travail: un patrimoine pour l'avenir. Mélanges en l'honneur de Nicolas Valticos
2004 - Comprises a collection of legal essays in honour of former ILO Assistant Director-General, Nicolas Valticos (1918-2003). Twenty-nine articles exclusively dedicated to standard-setting and supervision of international, labour standards.
Guide to international labour standards (2014)
2014 - Provides summaries of the contents of ILO Conventions and Recommendations by subject matter.
Fundamental rights at work and international labour standards
2003 - Offers a detailed description of the relevant Conventions and their principles, along with specific problems encountered in their application at national level.
International labour standards: A global approach
2002 - Describes the main content of all ILO Conventions and Recommendations which respond to current needs and makes reference to those instruments which are to be revised. Identifies the most frequent problems encountered in the application of these standards in various countries.
Handbook of procedures relating to international labour Conventions and Recommendations (Centenary Edition 2019)
2019 - This Handbook describes the procedures operating within the International Labour Organization in relation to the adoption and implementation of Conventions and Recommendations.

Articles and Working papers on International Labour Standards

Rights at work in times of crisis: Trends at the country level in terms of compliance with international labour standards
2011 - This paper seeks to identify trends in rights at work during the global financial and economic crisis that began in 2008, in terms of international labour standards. Its primary sources of information use recent observations of the International Labour Organisation’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) relating to the crisis, as well as data collected in the ILO/World Bank inventory standardized questionnaire of policy responses to the crisis on a sample of 50 countries covering the period mid-2008 - mid-2010.
A legal perspective on the role of international labour standards in rebalancing globalization
2011 - Research Conference on ‘Key Lessons from the Crisis and Way Forward’, 16-17 February 2011, International Institute for Labour Studies.
International labour standards: Recent developments in complementarity between the international and national supervisory systems
2008 - International Labour Review, Vol. 147 (2008), No. 4
Working Paper No. 58 - Decent work, standards and indicators
2005 - This paper presents a highly detailed and comprehensive method for constructing country profiles based on normative indicators as a tool for progress towards decent work. Country profiles on occupational safety and health (OSH) are available for a large number of countries.

Standard-setting activities and supervisory system of the ILO

Guide on established practices across the ILO supervisory system
2021 - This Guide presents the functioning of the supervisory system in relation to the application of International Labour Standards.
Monitoring compliance with international labour standards: The key role of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations
2019 - This publication follows a request made by the members of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations in 2018 to contribute to the ILO Centenary year through a study highlighting the achievements and successes in the implementation of ratified Conventions by ILO member States recorded by the Committee in the past few decades.
The Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labour Conference: A dynamic and impact built on decades of dialogue and persuasion
2011 - On the occasion of the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference, and the 85th anniversary of the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards, this study aims at emphasizing the significance of the work carried out by this body.
The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations: its dynamic and impact
2003 - Describes the composition and functioning of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations and reviews cases of progress in relation to the application of eight fundamental Conventions. Also lists cases of progress in relation to the implementation of the "priority and technical" conventions from 1988 to 2002 and the fundamental conventions from 1978 to 2003.
The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations: Progress achieved in national labour legislation
2006 - International Labour Review, Vol. 145 (2006), No. 3
The Committee of Freedom of Association: Its impact over 50 years
2002 - Based on a selection of examples from the past 25 years, examines the manner in which the Committee on Freedom of Association of the Governing Body of the ILO carries out its supervisory role.
Protecting Labour Rights as Human Rights: Present and Future of International Supervision (proceedings)
2007 - Proceedings of the international colloquium on the 80th anniversary of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, Geneva, 24-25 November 2006 (Articles in English, French and Spanish)
Governance, International Law & Corporate Social Responsibility
2008 - Examines the legal dimensions of corporate social responsibility and links with the ILO's supervisory system (International Institute for Labour Studies)
Employers' Organizations and the ILO Supervisory Machinery
2006 - Addressed to employers' organizations seeking assistance from the ILO standards supervisory procedures, as well as employer representatives acting as members in ILO supervisory bodies.
Employers' Handbook on ILO Standards-related Activities
2001 - For use in training courses and seminars on International Labour Standards aimed at employers' organizations. It can also be used as a reference material for employer participants in the International Labour Conference and the ILO Governing Body sessions.  

International Organisations with standard-setting activities

Compendium of International Organisations' Practices - Working Towards More Effective International Instruments
2021 - The IO Compendium is designed to serve not only all national and international policy practitioners, but also civil society actors, academic experts, private actors, and citizens who seek to understand, benefit from and possibly contribute to the international rulemaking process.

Freedom of Association

Freedom of association - Compilation of decisions of the Committee on Freedom of Association. Sixth edition, 2018
2018 - The compilation is intended to raise awareness and guide reflections for the effective respect for the fundamental principles of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
Working paper No. 1 "Freedom of association and collective bargaining in export processing zones: Role of the ILO supervisory mechanisms"
2007 - Discusses the principles of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations and the Committee on Freedom of Association concerning the freedom of association and collective bargaining rights of workers in export processing zones (EPZs), the recommendations made by them and the measures taken by the governments of EPZ-operating countries pursuant to such recommendations.
Working Paper No. 2 - Labour relations in the public and para-public sector
2007 - It is normally accepted that the public sector includes, on the one hand, the public service, consisting of State administrations and public bodies throughout the country (at the regional and local levels) and, on the other hand, public enterprises, which are owned wholly or in part by the State or regional public authorities. In general, for the purposes of the paper, the concept of the public sector is understood in its broadest sense, that is covering all public administrations, irrespective of their level and enterprises wholly or partly owned by public bodies at whatever level.
Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
1994 - General Survey of the Reports on the Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize Convention (No. 87), 1948 and the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention (No. 98), 1949
Collective Bargaining: ILO standards and the principles of the supervisory bodies
2000 - Provides an analysis of the observations made by the Committee of Experts in 1998 and 1999 on the application of the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) and related ILO standards
ILO principles concerning the right to strike
2000 - Examines the principles laid down by the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association concerning the right to strike, covering inter alia political strikes, compensatory guarantees if the right to strike is denied, and protection against reprisals for strike action.
Freedom of association: A user's guide - Standards, principles and procedures of the International Labour Organization
2000 - Serves as a companion volume to "ILO law on freedom of association: standards and procedures" (Geneva, 1995). Describes the practical influence and impact of the ILO’s freedom of association standards and principles and the use of procedures for their enforcement.
ILO Law on Freedom of Association: Standards and procedures
1995 - Part one contains texts of and extracts from ILO Conventions and ILO Recommendations dealing with freedom of association and labour relations. Part two contains extracts from the regulations governing the procedure of the ILO’s supervisory bodies.
Report I(B): Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
2008 - Freedom of association in practice: Lessons learned.

Informal economy

Extending the scope of application of labour laws to the informal economy
2010 - Digest of comments of the ILO’s supervisory bodies related to the informal economy


Compendium of Maritime Labour Instruments - Third (Revised) edition, 2021
2021 - This book contains three Conventions relating to the maritime sector and several documents relevant to their implementation: the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC, 2006); the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, (Revised), 2003, as amended (No. 185); and the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC, 2006) - Fifth edition, 2019
2019 - The FAQ is intended to help persons engaged in the study or application of the MLC, 2006 to find answers to questions they have about this innovative ILO Convention.
Handbook: Guidance on implementing the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 - Model National Provisions [2nd impression (with modifications), 2014]
2014 - This handbook contains a model for legal provisions that implement the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). This model closely follows the provisions of the Convention. It is not a proposal for a national law (although with some adjustments it could be used as such), but, rather, it is intended as an aid, in whole or in part, for national legislators and legislative counsel in drafting the necessary legal texts to implement the MLC, 2006.
Handbook: Guidance on implementing the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and Social Security for Seafarers
2012 - This handbook on social security has been prepared by the International Labour Office under the auspices of the ILO’s five year (2006-2011) Action Plan to achieve rapid and widespread and effective implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. It is intended to assist countries that may need additional information or technical support to ratify and implement this innovative Convention. These innovations relate to the Convention’s legal structure and terminology, its comprehensiveness, its areas of flexibility as well as its expanded compliance and enforcement provisions.
The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006: A Legal Primer to an Emerging International Regime
2011 - M. L. McConnell, D. Devlin, C. Doumbia-Henry - Discusses the MLC, 2006 within the contexts of labour and maritime law, and provides an annotated version of the text.
Guidelines for port State control officers carrying out inspections under the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006
2009 - The guidelines contained in this book are an important international resource for implementing port State responsibilities under the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC). They were adopted by the ILO in September 2008 together with Guidelines for flag State inspections under the MLC, 2006.
Guidelines for flag State inspections under the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006
2009 - The Guidelines for flag State inspections under the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006), contained in this book are an important resource for implementing flag State responsibilities under the MLC, 2006. They were adopted by the ILO in September 2008 together with Guidelines for port State control officers carrying out inspections under the MLC, 2006.
Building the momentum for the ILO's Maritime Labour Convention, 2006
2009 - INTLREG Magazine, 2nd edition 2009 (International Register of Shipping) - Article by Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the International Labour Standards Departement.
Current Maritime Labour Law Issues - An Internationally Uniform Identity Document for Seafarers
2003 - This article reviews the achievements of the recently adopted Convention on Seafarers’ Identity Documents (Revised) 2003, (No.185) adopted by the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization. (First published in the World Maritime University Journal of Maritime Affairs, 2003, Vol. 2, No. 2. Reproduced with permission).
How biometrics helps the seafarer and world trade
2006 - This article first appeared in the February 2006 issue of ISO Focus - the Magazine of the International Organization for Standardization, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2006 and is reproduced here with the permission of the ISO Central Secretariat.
Safety and health in ports. ILO code of practice
2005 - This essential code of practice, intended to replace both the second edition of the ILO Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Dock Work (1977) and the ILO Guide to Safety and Health in Dock Work (1976), provides valuable advice and assistance to all those charged with the management, operation, maintenance and development of ports and their safety.

Employment policy

Guide on employment policy and international labour standards
2014 - The aim of the present Guide is to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of placing the promotion of full, productive and freely chosen employment at the heart of socio-economic and development policies through a rights-based approach and a broad basis of agreement achieved through social dialogue, in line with the Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (No. 122).

Youth employment

Guide to international labour standards and rights at work concerning young people
2017 - This Guide is intended for ILO constituents and other stakeholders concerned with promoting youth employment, and in particular ensuring decent work for young people. It is also aimed at ILO staff and project managers engaged in youth employment initiatives at country level. For young people it provides the necessary information on their rights at work.

Technical cooperation

Improving the impact of international labour standards through technical cooperation : a practice guide
2008 - Provides practical guidance to the International Labour Standards Department, including staff at headquarters and field specialists, on strategic entry points and opportunities for promoting and implementing international labour standards through technical cooperation.

Social Security

The Right to Social Security in the Constitutions of the World: Broadening the moral and legal space for social justice
2016 - Aims to take stock of the development of social rights and protections as reflected in the national constitutions across the world and to assess the value added by the constitutional guarantees of social security to the advancement of social justice in the twenty-first century. It is dedicated to the ILO Future of Work Centenary Initiative and the worldwide celebration in 2019 of the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO Constitution.
ILO Technical Notes - The state of application of the provisions for social security of the international treaties on social rights
2016 - Represent a collection of country specific publications on the member States’ compliance and reporting obligations in the field of social security under ratified international treaties on social rights, including up-to-date ILO social security Conventions, UN Human Rights Treaties and regional instruments on economic and social rights.
Standards for the XXIst Century: Social Security
2002 - Describes the characteristics of the ILO’s social security standards, highlighting their universality and flexibility and their common principles. Examines the protection afforded in each of the nine branches of social security and considers the treatment of migrant workers.

Trade and labour rights

The comments of the ILO's Supervisory bodies: Usefulness in the context of the sanction-based dimension of labour provisions in US free trade agreements
2013 - ILO Research Paper No. 4
Free trade agreements and labour rights: Recent developments
2006 - International Labour Review, Vol. 145 (2006), No. 3
Trade and employment: Challenges for policy research
2007 - On the basis of an overview of the existing academic literature, the study provides an impartial view of what can be said, and with what degree of confidence, on the relationship between trade and employment, an often contentious issue of public debate.

Equality and discrimination

Violence and harassment in the world of work: A guide on Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206
 2021 -
ILO Guide on Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206 to shed light on definitions, core principles and measures enshrined in these instruments.
Information paper on protection against sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sexual characteristics (SOGIESC) discrimination
 2019 -
This paper sets out and analyses the law and practice of ILO member States in relation to discrimination in employment and occupation on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sexual characteristics (SOGIESC).
Promoting diversity and inclusion through workplace adjustments - A practical guide
 2017 -
This guide aims to explain the concept of reasonable adjustments (“reasonable accommodation”) and provide practical step-by-step guidance on how and when these should be provided in the workplace.
Equal Pay - An introductory guide
 2013- Ensuring that the work done by women and men is valued fairly and ending pay discrimination is essential to achieving gender equality. However, pay inequality continues to persist and gender pay gaps in some instances have stagnated or even increased.
Gender Equality and Decent Work - Selected ILO Conventions and Recommendations Promoting Gender Equality
 2012 - Lack of awareness of women workers’ rights has increasingly been recognized as a constraint in the effective use of standards. Dissemination of information about these rights is, therefore, a vital instrument for improving the status of women in society. While ILO instruments are applicable to both women and men, there are a number which are of specific interest for women workers and they are included in this useful reference.

Indigenous and Tribal Peoples

Understanding the Indigenous and Tribal People Convention, 1989 (No. 169) - Handbook for ILO Tripartite Constituents
2013 - This handbook aims to answer some of the essential questions regarding Convention No. 169 and is addressed to governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, as well as for indigenous and tribal peoples.
Including indigenous peoples in poverty reduction strategies
2008 - A Practice Guide based on experiences from Cambodia, Cameroon and Nepal
Eliminating discrimination against indigenous and tribal peoples in employment and occupation
2008 - A Guide to ILO Convention No. 111


The story of the ILO’s Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No.193)
2015 - There is a renaissance of interest in cooperatives, as democratically owned and controlled enterprises, in achieving socially inclusive sustainable development. In June 2002 the ILC adopted the Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No.193). This report sets out to answer some key questions on the standard.