Freedom of association

The right of workers and employers to form and join organizations of their own choosing is an integral part of a free and open society. In many cases, these organizations have played a significant role in their countries’ democratic transformation. From advising governments on labour legislation to providing education and training for trade unions and employer groups, the ILO is regularly engaged in promoting freedom of association. The ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association was set up in 1951 to examine violations of workers’ and employers’ organizing rights. The committee is tripartite and handles complaints in ILO Member States whether or not they have ratified freedom of association conventions. Through the Committee on Freedom of Association and other supervisory mechanisms, the ILO has frequently defended rights of trade unions and employers’ organizations.

Key resources

  1. Database

    NORMLEX - Committee on Freedom of Association cases

  2. Report

    Freedom of association in practice: lessons learned

    Global report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work.


  1. The Role of Collective Bargaining in the Global Economy: Negotiating for Social Justice

    This book looks at the role that collective bargaining plays in ensuring that workers are able to obtain a fair share of the benefits arising from participation in the global economy and in providing a measure of security against the risk to employment and wages.