Each year the International Labor Organization undertakes an extensive examination of countries’ actions to implement international labor standards. This leads to often-detailed recommendations on how countries could adapt their laws or the way they are enforced. In most cases countries are ready to cooperate with the ILO to make the necessary reforms and strengthen their enforcement mechanisms. A few are not, and this can lead the ILO to escalate pressure on them to respect the standards. Attention needs to be focused not just on the few cases where there is a failure to cooperate, but also on the ILO’s capacity to systematically help those who state that they are willing to follow up on the recommendations of the ILO’s supervisory bodies.
The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations has called for an increase in the ILO’s technical assistance to countries in order to help them meet their obligations under ratified conventions. In its 2008 report, the committee identified 39 countries that it was concerned enough about to invite them to use ILO technical assistance to remedy weaknesses in their law and practice. Several countries each year call for such assistance, but the ILO is not at present able to meet all the requests.
A reinforced ILO program to follow up on the findings of its supervisory bodies would cover a variety of situations. In some cases, this involves technical redrafting of laws; in others, it requires more in-depth dialogue and analysis of ways in which international principles can be integrated into national systems for labor market governance. They range from the small-scale technical assistance, advisory, and training services to public authorities, trade unions, and employer associations, to large-scale technical cooperation projects aimed at creating new public institutions and assisting voluntary associations of employers and workers. Rapid reaction capacity is needed to address particularly troubling and serious cases of non-observance of labor standards. The estimated cost of boosting the ILO’s own capacity to systematically follow up on the findings of its supervisory bodies is $10 million per year with a further $30 million per year for technical assistance to countries implementing the measures required to come into conformity with their obligations under international labor standards.
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