Founded in 1919, it was formed through the negotiations of the Treaty of Versailles, and became a UN body when the UN was formed. Its current charter, the Declaration of Philadelphia was adopted in 1944.
The organisation seeks to strengthen worker rights, improve working and living conditions, create employment, and provide information and training opportunities. ILO programs include the occupational safety and health hazard alert system and the labor standards and human rights programs.
Historically, one of the functions the ILO has performed has been the establishment of international standards for workers conditions, which have then become the basis for trade union activism in individual countries.
It is a relatively low-profile UN agency compared to some of those more active in crises like the World Health Organization.
The organization received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.