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close this bookABC of Women Workers' Rights and Gender Equality (ILO; 2000; 124 pages)
View the documentThe International Labour Organization
View the documentILO Publications
View the documentPreface to the earlier ABC of women workers' rights
View the documentPreface to the new ABC of women workers' rights and gender equality
close this folderIntroduction: Labour standards promoting women workers' rights and gender equality (Ingeborg Heide1)
View the document1. How to use this guide
View the document2. Gender equality in the ILO's mandate
View the document3. International labour Conventions and Recommendations
View the document4. History of standard setting to promote women workers' rights and gender equality
View the document5. Gender equality - A fundamental human right
View the document6. International labour standards, supranational law and national law
View the document7. Application and enforcement at the national level
View the document8. ILO standard setting and other means of action
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View the documentOther ILO publications
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3. International labour Conventions and Recommendations

International labour standards prescribe minimum working conditions and the principle of non-discrimination in its many aspects, and are usually designed for all workers irrespective of their sex.

A Convention is an international treaty open to ratification by ILO member States. Ratification means that a country undertakes to apply the provisions of the ratified Convention in law and practice, and to submit to international supervision on the extent of application. Ratifying countries must provide regular reports to the ILO on the measures taken to implement the Convention, and must accept the ILO's supervision of compliance. If a Convention is not yet ratified by a member State, it represents a goal to be reached. In fact, millions of workers benefit from national laws that are influenced by ILO Conventions even when the country has not (yet) ratified them.

Recommendations set non-binding guidelines to orient national policy and practice which may be used as a source of inspiration or interpretation. They may supplement the provisions contained in a parallel Convention on the same issue.

ILO Conventions and Recommendations are adopted by the annual International Labour Conference. Government, workers' and employers' delegates meet each June in Geneva to discuss, adopt and supervise standards governing the world of labour.

Countries which have ratified a Convention must implement it. They should repeal any statutory provisions and modify any administrative instructions or procedures that are inconsistent with the Convention. The governments of States which have ratified a Convention report regularly on its application in law and in practice. Workers' and employers' organizations have the right to submit information as well. In countries which have ratified the Tripartite Consultation Convention, 1976 (No. 144), the social partners should all be consulted before government replies, proposals or reports are sent to the ILO. The report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, an independent body, is examined and discussed in the tripartite Committee on the Application of Standards at the International Labour Conference. Shortcomings are pointed out and governments are asked to correct them.

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