ILO in Myanmar

ILOThe ILO is working toward introducing decent working environment for all. Photo Sonish Vaidya/ILO.

The Government of Myanmar joined the ILO in 1948. In 2002, a formal Understanding was negotiated which permitted the appointment of a liaison officer in-country. A restrictive mandate, as guided by the ILO Governing Body, was imposed for the liaison officer to work to support Myanmar for the elimination of the use of forced labour. This was supplemented in 2007 by way of a Supplementary Understanding which put in place a complaints mechanism on forced labour. Under this mechanism, residents of Myanmar can complain to the ILO if they believe they are subject to any form of forced labour. The operation of the complaints mechanism and its efficiency enabled the ILO to build  both a working relationship with the Government which was  based on respect, and  a  very  close  relationship  with  the  Myanmar  people who have grown to trust this mechanism as it enabled them to seek redress and/or remedies in full confidence that no retaliatory action be taken against them.

With the holding of elections in 2010 and the transition of the country towards being  more open, the ILO and the Government of Myanmar agreed to the development   of a comprehensive programme that would continue to focus on rights, particularly on  eliminating practices of forced labour in a more extensive manner as well as promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining, but would also integrate other priorities to foster decent work prospects and promote social and economic development. Building  on  the  engagement in Myanmar over the past decade and taking into account the most recent developments in the country, the ILO is committed to focus first and foremost on the  promotion of  full respect for and application of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in Myanmar. This rights-based foundation is the basis for addressing a wider set of priorities identified by the ILO's constituents, namely Government, Employers and Workers in a participatory process. The ILO continues to support Myanmar to establish a foundation for decent work and the Global 2nd Generation Development framework, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 8 on decent work. The ILO continues to assist the constituents of Myanmar to achieve, among others, principally Goal 8, aligned with and contributing to the country’s national development priorities and the overall assistance framework of the United Nations. 

ILO image of familyThe ILO is working toward introducing decent working environment for all. Photo Sonish Vaidya/ILO.

Against this background, the ILO will pursue the following objectives:


  1. Promotion of fundamental principles and rights at work with focus on elimination of the systemic use of forced labour, strengthen communities as well as Government authorities’ capacity in their interaction on labour-related normative issues, sustained and deepened progress on Freedom of Association and improved policies and  frameworks for reduction of child  labour, particularly its worst forms.
  2. Contribution to   enhanced employment opportunities and social protection   through strengthened labour market information systems, more efficient migration management planning taking into account employment policy and skills     development systems, entrepreneurship development, application of labour intensive technology, and extending social protection for all.
  3. Strengthening the capacity of Government and representative employers' and workers' organizations to influence and implement economic, social and governance policies.

Currently, the ILO’s Liaison Office in Myanmar implements 13 projects in the country and is managing a portfolio of over USD 26,000,000 with ILO internal and external donor funding and it is currently developing an expanded Decent Work Country Programme.


Do you know that:

  • The ILO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, will soon be launching the first National Labour Force Survey since 1990. It will enhance the labour statistics system and statistical capacity of Myanmar to collect reliable labour market statistics. The survey will include components on child labour and on youth, both policy priorities in Myanmar, using, respectively, the ILO child labour and school-to-work transition methodologies.


  • Since 2007, the ILO has received and registered over 4,540 complaints under   the Supplementary Understanding. Among the complaints received 1,690 concerned under-age recruitment and 637 under-age recruits have been released and discharged from the Military. 320 perpetrators have been subjected to either judicial or administrative punishment.


  • Since 2012, Labour Organizations have achieved registration and the ILO Myanmar project on Freedom of Association and social dialogue has reached over 5,499 participants in 145 distinct activities.


  • In 2015 the ILO together with Police Anti-trafficking task force and members of community based organizations and civil society organizations worked together in partnership in an internal migration survey with the results of this survey informing not only patterns of internal migration, but also indicative trends on human trafficking for forced labour.


  • In 2015 the ILO and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement have been working in collaboration in the Assessment – Based National Dialogue (ABND) exercise that informs on social protection gaps and opportunities in Myanmar. The report covers 1) working men and women, 2) children, 3) old aged populations and 4) people with disabilities. It is the first time that social protection issues were addressed through a rights-based lens, and no longer with a humanitarian approach alone.