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 were 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 in core labour issues and promoting relevant international standards, the organization is today at the very centre of fundamental questions. With global economic crisis and growing unemployment the questions pertaining to work have become increasingly important part of the global agenda and everyday issues in all of the185 Member States. Proper working conditions and the fact that, in general, one has the opportunity to earn a living for himself/herself and his/her family by means of doing decent work are integral elements of living conditions that promote well-being in accordance with the objectives of sustainable development. One of the most important tasks of the organization is to compile International Labour Standards, that is, adopt and implement conventions and recommendations that regulate working conditions.
Finland supports the technical cooperation of the ILO by means of channelling funds to programmes not only from the appropriations reserved for international development cooperation but also from neighbouring area cooperation appropriations. With the support of Finland projects to combat the abuse of child labour in St. Petersburg, to enhance work opportunities for persons with disabilities in Southern Caucasus area, and to promote employment of women in North Africa, have been implemented.
The ILO's three-week International Labour Conference, organized every June, and the ILO Governing Body which meets three times a year constitutes 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 preparation of the meetings of the main governing bodies of the ILO. The participation of Finland is coordinated between relevant national authorities, especially the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Finland participates primarily as a member of the European Union. Also the cooperation between the Nordic countries is traditionally active with regard to the issues related to labour.
Currently Finland is not a member of the Governing Body of the ILO, in which the Nordic Countries are represented until 2014 by Denmark.