The International Labour Organization, ILO, is one of the specialized agencies of the UN based in Geneva. It is much older than the United Nations or the Permanent Mission of Finland since it is one of the organizations that was founded in conjunction with the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War in 1919 and the only one of them that has survived. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.
Focusing on core labour issues and promoting relevant international standards, the organization today is at the very center of fundamental questions. With global economic crises and growing unemployment questions pertaining to labour have become an increasingly important part of the global agenda and daily discussions in all of the ILO's 187 Member States. Poverty reduction, equality and opportunities to earn a living for oneself and one's family by means of doing decent work are integral elements of the jointly agreed UN development agenda "The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". In addition, one of the most important tasks of the organization is to compile International Labour Standards, that is, to adopt and implement conventions and recommendations that regulate working conditions.
Finland supports the technical cooperation of the ILO by means of channeling funds to programmes from the appropriations reserved for international development cooperation. Finland currently supports labour opportunities for women in North Africa, "green jobs" in Zambia, as well as creating structures for social protection globally.
The ILO's two-week International Labour Conference, organized every June, and the ILO Governing Body which meets three times a year jointly constitute a unique international forum for discussion, because not only Member States' governments but also their social partners - representatives of employers and employees - are present.
Finland's Permanent Mission to Geneva takes an active part in the meetings and in the preparation of the meetings of the ILO’s main governing bodies. The Mission collaborates closely with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment which bears the main responsibility for international cooperation in this sector. Finland participates in the ILO meetings primarily as a member of the European Union and is engaged in close cooperation with the Nordic countries.
Currently, Finland is not a member of the Governing Body of the ILO, in which the Nordic Countries are represented until 2017 by Norway.