Clarkslegal representing UK employers on the global stage

Published on: 18/06/2024


I recently returned from the 112th Session of the International Labour Organisation's International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva which I had the privilege of attending with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), in order to represent UK employers on this global stage.

The International Labour Organisation is a United Nation’s agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice by setting international labour standards. The International Labour Conference is the largest international gathering dedicated to the world of work. It brings together government, employer and worker representatives from the International Labour Organisation’s 187 member states to discuss solutions to pressing world of work challenges.

One of the International Labour Conference’s key roles is to debate, draft and adopt international labour standards, designed to improve conditions for workers and enterprises worldwide.

Many of the labour rights we take for granted today were first established at the International Labour Conference such as those concerning maternity leave, minimum wages and working hours.

Each year the Conference focusses on different topics concerning the world of work. This year, the topics in particular focus were:

  • Fundamental principles and rights at work
  • Protection against biological hazards in the work environment
  • Decent work and the care economy

My main focus at this year’s ILC was the discussion around Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW).

The ILO identifies five main FPRW:

  • Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining
  • The abolition of child labour
  • The elimination of forced or compulsory labour
  • The elimination of discrimination
  • The right to a safe and healthy working environment

A discussion around the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work felt very apt at this point in time. FPRW are at a pivotal moment; despite efforts and advances in many nations, the convergence of major crises, particularly since the outbreak of COVID-19 has impeded progress for many. Simultaneously, significant transformation spread by technological advances are creating unprecedented opportunities for innovation, productivity and economic growth. If matched with respect for FPRW, they can hopefully contribute to a future of economic security and equality for all.

This year our FPRW committee was asked to review progress and challenges in the realisation of the principles and rights and to provide guidance on the way forward, all whilst taking into account different national realities.

For those of you who wish to read our outcomes and conclusion document in full, it can be found here:

Clarkslegal and CBI

Clarkslegal has been representing the UK Employer Ethics and Human Rights Delegation, led by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on an annual basis for nearly 2 decades. Our goal is to continuously ensure that we understand the international context and how the ILO is developing the agenda regarding conventions to which countries have signed up, as well as how they comply with these conventions.

If you have any questions regarding ILO, please feel free to contact our employment team, who will be happy to assist.


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.