Apr. 11, 2019 -- The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been "a trusted voice" to "ensure social justice in every corner of our world," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday.
He made the remarks at a high-level meeting to commemorate the centenary of what was the first ever United Nations agency.
The UN chief painted a picture of a time of upheaval, when newly-emboldened labor unions in many parts of the world, demanded fair treatment, dignity at work, adequate wages and an eight-hour working day.
Guterres said that ILO has had its "finger on the pulse on people's concerns," and "played a central role in the struggle for social progress."
Acknowledging ILO's more than 180 conventions and implementation programs "on everything from gender equality to forced labor," UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said that "injustice is still a reality for millions of people," highlighting the predicament of child workers, forced laborers and those trafficked into prostitution.
"Over 40 million people today are victims of modern forms of slavery, more than twice the number involved in the transatlantic slave trade," she said.
Citing decent work as one of her own priorities, Espinosa affirmed that it makes the United Nations "more relevant to people," by demonstrating the "everyday impact of international agreements like the 2030 Agenda, and multilateral bodies like the ILO."
Founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1919, the ILO is a UN agency whose mandate is to advance social justice and promote decent work by setting international labor standards. The ILO is the first specialized agency of the UN with 187 member states.