Ratification is a formal procedure whereby a State accepts the Convention as a legally binding instrument. Ratifying an international convention like Convention No. 190 sends an important signal to individuals and to the international community about the State’s commitment to take all measures necessary to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work. Moreover, Convention No. 190, as with all international labour standards, can play an important role in the design of laws and regulations, as these instruments provide authoritative guidance on law and policy. Where Conventions have been ratified, they entail international law obligations for the countries concerned (ILO 2019a).
A call for ratification of Convention No. 190
Pursuant to Article 19(5)–(7) of the ILO Constitution, ILO Member States have the obligation to submit any Convention and Recommendation adopted by the International Labour Conference to their competent national authority, with a view to the enactment of relevant measures, including the ratification of Conventions (ILO 2019a). According to the ILO Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144), Member States shall undertake tripartite consultations on the proposals to be made to the competent authority in connection with the submission of Conventions and Recommendations (Art. 5(1)).
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8.1. Why ratification is important?
8.2. How to proceed towards ratification of Convention No. 190?
Each country has its own internal process for ratifying international Conventions, which often involves a decision or approval by the national legislature. Countries that have ratified the ILO Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144), have an obligation “to operate procedures which ensure effective consultations, with respect to the matters concerning the activities of the International Labour Organisation … between representatives of the government, of employers and of workers” (Art. 2) (ILO 2019a, 50). Once the internal ratification process is completed, the Government submits an instrument of ratification to the Director-General of the ILO for registration. The Convention enters into force – that is, becomes legally binding – for the country 12 months following registration of its instrument of ratification by the Director-General. 46
The procedures of submission to the competent national authorities and of ratification are a unique opportunity to spark social dialogue on the content of the Convention and the measures needed to implement it. Ensuring social dialogue is of paramount importance. All actors of the world of work need to be involved, and listened to. Social dialogue leads to better outcomes since it provides more practical information, and offers a range of approaches and solutions by those directly concerned. Engaging in tripartite consultation also helps bring the Convention to the knowledge of a broader public and build a sense of ownership, which is likely to result in ensuring effective implementation. Participation of representative workers’ and employers’ organizations in social dialogue should be on an “equal footing”, according to ILO Convention No. 144, and representation should be gender-responsive and inclusive.
In moving forward towards ratification, a country may opt for an assessment of their current legislative framework with a view to taking stock of existing laws, regulations and practices dealing with violence and harassment and to identifying relevant gaps. Taking into account the actual provisions in laws and regulations, and the areas identified where better protection is needed, one or more regulatory initiatives based on defined policy objectives can be prepared.
46 An adopted Convention normally comes into force 12 months after being ratified by two Member States. Following ratification by Uruguay and Fiji, Convention No. 190 came into force on 25 June 2021.
8.3. How is the implementation of Convention No. 190 supervised?
The implementation of international labour standards is supervised by ILO supervisory bodies, whose nature is unique at the international level. The ILO supervisory system, comprising the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) and the ILO Conference Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS), regularly examines the application of standards in Member States and point out areas where they could be better applied (ILO 2019a). 47
Once a country has ratified Convention No. 190, it is required, according to Article 22 of the ILO Constitution, to report regularly on the measures it has taken for its implementation. When submitting its first report, the Member is asked to complete a detailed report form correspondingly adopted by the Governing Body (ILO 2021b). Every six years, governments have to provide reports detailing the steps they have taken in law and practice to apply the Convention, and provide replies to comments issued by the CEACR. Governments are required to submit copies of their reports to employers’ and workers’ organizations. These organizations may comment on the government reports, or send comments directly to the ILO on the application of Conventions, following Article 23 of the ILO Constitution (ILO 2019a).
Figure 6. How can ratification be promoted?
If a country has not ratified Convention No. 190 yet …
What canemployers’ and workers’ organizations do?
Put a written request to the Government to find out whether Convention No. 190 has been submitted to the competent authorities for possible ratification and whether the ratification is under consideration;
Require a tripartite consultation at the national or sectoral level;
Develop, join and/or support international and national campaigns, and mobilize members in support of Convention No. 190;
Contact the most representative organizations in the country and coordinate with them;
Raise awareness of Convention No. 190 and conduct assessments among members to understand the situation and challenges in relation to its effective implementation.
What can Parliamentarians do?
Put an oral or written question to the Government during Question Time to find out whether ratification is under consideration, and if not, to determine why Convention No. 190 has not yet been ratified;
Encourage a parliamentary debate on the question;
Work with the Ministry of Labour or any other relevant and competent ministries, social partners, media and civil society to mobilize public opinion in support of Convention No. 190
What can civil society organizations do?
Lobby government representatives and/or employers’ or workers’ organizations for the ratification of Convention No. 190;
Keep institutions accountable for national and global commitments made by governments concerning the ratification and implementation of Convention No. 190;
Develop, join and/or support international and national campaigns in support of the ratification and implementation of Convention No. 190;
Mobilize members and other civil society organizations to create a movement in support of Convention No. 190;
Make your voice heard offline and online, including by using the hashtag #RatifyC190.
What can individuals do?
Get in contact with social partners and ask about any ratification prospects;
Join international and national campaigns, and mobilize friends, your community and civil society in support of Convention No. 190;
Create a movement in support of Convention No. 190;
Be active and make your voice heard offline and online, including by using the hashtag #RatifyC190;
Become an agent of change wherever your work.
47 In addition, a number of complaints-based procedures exist; see ILO 2019a.