Who We Are

The Office of International Labor Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor leads the Department of State’s efforts to advance labor rights in U.S. foreign policy. Promoting freedom of association is key to achieving inclusive growth, enhancing stability, and leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses.

What We Do

We work with other U.S. agencies, foreign governments, businesses, workers’ organizations, NGOs, and academic scholars to advance labor rights and find solutions to urgent labor rights challenges.

Examples of Engagement

Bilateral & Multilateral: We engage governments directly and work through multilateral organizations such as the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This includes representing the State Department in ILO meetings and representing the U.S. Government on the advisory group on the OECD Garment and Footwear Sector Due Diligence Guidance.

Trade: We promote labor rights for all workers through U.S. trade policy, participating in negotiating labor provisions of U.S. free trade agreements, working with other U.S. agencies to develop U.S. trade policies, including self-initiation of country practice reviews for compliance with Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) labor eligibility criteria, and working with U.S. embassies to hold foreign governments accountable to the labor-related eligibility requirements of trade preference programs.

Programming: Our global programs support a wide range of innovative approaches to promote labor rights and empower workers.

Reporting: We lead the production of Section 7 of the Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, one of the most comprehensive reports on worker rights. We work closely with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the U.S. Department of Labor on related reporting on forced and child labor.

Coordination & Training: We coordinate the activities of the Department’s labor officers, who have promoted labor rights since the 1940s in U.S. missions abroad. We train these officers and other Department officers, and develop and disseminate tools to help them promote labor rights.

OUR APPROACH

PROMOTE & PROTECT – Fostering respect for international labor rights and helping develop commitments by key stakeholders to uphold these rights.

CONVENE & FACILITATE – Creating a space to debate emerging and critical issues among business, civil society, and government.

DEVELOP & IMPLEMENT – Establishing tools, training, and guidance for U.S. Government officials to more effectively promote labor rights.


Contact the labor team: DRL-ILA-DL@state.gov

 

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future