Human Rights Advocacy
Decent work - the heart of social progress
Decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives. It involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.
"The primary goal of the ILO is to promote opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity." - ILO Director-General Juan Somavia
Decent work should be at the heart of global, national and local strategies for economic and social progress. It is central to efforts to reduce poverty, and a means for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. The ILO works to promote decent work through its work on employment, social protection, standards and fundamental principles and rights at work and social dialogue.
In each of these areas, people throughout the world face deficits, gaps and exclusions in the form of unemployment and underemployment, poor quality and unproductive jobs, unsafe work and insecure income, rights which are denied, gender inequality, migrant workers who are exploited, lack of representation and voice, and inadequate protection and solidarity in the face of disease, disability and old age. ILO programmes aim to find solutions to these problems.
Progress towards decent work calls for action at the global level, mobilizing the principal actors of the multilateral system and the global economy around this agenda. At the national level, integrated decent work country programmes, developed by ILO constituents, define the priorities and the targets within national development frameworks. The ILO, working in partnership with others within and beyond the UN family, provides in-depth expertise and key policy instruments for the design and implementation of these programmes, for the building of institutions to carry them forward, and for the measurement of progress.
Promoting decent work is a shared responsibility of the ILO's constituents and the Office. In the tripartite ILO, the decent work agenda incorporates the needs and perspectives of the governments, employer's and workers' organization that constitute the ILO, mobilizing their energy and resourcefulness, and providing a platform for constructing consensus on social and economic policies. ILO's mandate for pursuing action against poverty is contained in the Philadelphia Decalartion of 1944 which states that "poverty constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere". ILO has a long history of work on poverty reduction both at the policy level and in practice. This work is now being reinforced in the context of the international commitment to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).
The four pillars of ILO's work, namely rights at work, employment, social protection and social dialogue, are mutually reinforcing in addressing poverty reduction. The ILO is currently developing ways of promoting a more coherent approach to addressing poverty reduction as a means for achieving decent work for all.