News Release
Department of Labor and Employment
August 15, 2021

Bello flexes ILO role; presses democratization

Only by democratizing the International Labour Organization (ILO) can it truly set global labor standards to advance social and economic justice for the working people of the world, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Sunday.

Bello made the assertion as he flexes his role as chair of the powerful Government Group in the tripartite organization that sets global labor policies and standards.

And for democratization to happen, Bello said member countries should ratify the 1986 Amendment to the ILO constitution which will give voting and speaking rights to more countries in its Governing Body. The GB is the policy-making body of the ILO in between sessions of the International Labor Conference.

“If the 1986 amendment enters into force, the number of members of the governing body under the constitution will increase from 56 to 112. The manner of their allocation will also be affected,” Bello said.

Of the 112 seats, Bello said 56 would be allocated to government representatives and 28 each to employers’ and workers’ representatives.

“Most importantly, there would no longer be seats guaranteed for members considered as states of chief industrial importance,” Bello added.

Bello was saddened by the permanent status of chief industrial countries compared to other member states that need to get elected before they can join ILO’s governing body.

The ILO has 10 countries of chief industrial importance which sit as regular members of the governing body without needing an election. They are the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, India, China and Japan. They are the only countries with voting and speaking rights along with 10 other elected members.

Bello said under the 1986 amendment, of the 56 seats reserved for governments, 54 would be distributed among four geographic regions namely Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe with a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 15 seats for each region.

“The initial allocation provided for is 13 seats for Africa, 12 for the Americas, and alternately 15 and 14 for Asia and Europe. The two remaining seats would rotate one between Africa and the Americas and the other between Asia and Europe,” he added.

Bello said another democratic feature of the amendment is its impact on the election of the ILO director-general.

“Under the 1986 amendment, the director-general would continue to be appointed by the governing body but the appointment would be submitted to the International Labour Conference for approval,” he explained.

“So the amendment we are seeking in the charter is really all about more voices in the ILO because it promotes democracy and inclusivity,” Bello said.

But to make the amendment effective, Bello said it has to be ratified or accepted by two-thirds of ILO members. “As there are currently 187 member states, 125 of them need to approve the amendment,” he said.

There are 116 ratifications or acceptance registered as of May this year. “We need nine more ratifications for the 1986 amendment to enter into force,” Bello explained.

Bello has since last year endorsed to the Department of Foreign Affairs the pertinent documents for the ratification of the 1986 Amendment of the ILO Constitution. ###


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