ILO Violence and Harassment Convention

The groundbreaking treaty, adopted June 21, 2019 by government, employer, and worker members of the ILO, sets international legal standards for preventing and responding to violence and harassment at work.

ILO’s landmark Convention No. 190, on violence and harassment in the work environment, will enter into force in June 2021.

On June 12, 2020, Uruguay became the first country to ratify the convention, which will enter into force with the second ratification. Argentina, Belgium, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Namibia, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain, and Uganda have signaled their intention to ratify. Countries that ratify agree to align their national laws to the treaty’s standards and will be periodically reviewed for compliance by the ILO.

Convention No. 190 is the first international treaty to address violence and harassment in the world of work.

Together with Recommendation No. 206 , it provides a common framework for action and a unique opportunity to shape a future of work based on dignity and respect, and underlines the right of everyone to a world free from violence and harassment. It includes the first international definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence.

The Convention recognizes that violence and harassment in the world of work “can constitute a human rights violation or abuse…is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.” It defines “violence and harassment” as behaviours, practices or threats “that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.” It reminds member States that they have a responsibility to promote a “general environment of zero tolerance”.

The Convention applies to the public and private sectors, formal and informal economies, and urban and rural areas. It protects everyone in the world of work, irrespective of their contractual status.

The Convention also requires ratifying member States to adopt, in consultation with representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment, through prevention, protection and enforcement measures and remedies, as well as guidance, training and awareness-raising.

It also recognizes the different and complementary roles and functions of governments, employers and workers and their respective organizations, taking into account the varying nature and extent of their responsibilities. The Convention and Recommendation also reaffirm ILO’s crucial standard-setting role. They are tangible evidence of the enduring value and strength of social dialogue and tripartism, which will be essential in implementing them at national level.

Tu Anh