How can South-South Cooperation strengthen ILS related to the Informal Economy?

The ILO has been engaged in several activities and projects involving South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) to address issues related to International Labour Standards (ILS), including the promotion of integrated normative strategies.

Normative strategies integrate ILS into efforts for decent work and sustainable development. They help advance ILS as part of sustainable development goals. Strategies address blind spots amongst ILO’s strategic objectives across employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles. They also involve assessing ratification status, application gaps, engagement with reporting and ILO supervisory systems, keeping pace with standard setting, and connecting with human rights systems.

In addition, strategies can communicate how International Labour Standards provide a foundation for stable governance and investor confidence as countries develop higher-value industries. Baseline assessments, like ILO’s normative gap analyses, provide data to inform strategy priorities and benchmark progress over time on aligning standards with application.

South-South and Triangular Cooperation initiatives on ILS can take the form of project coordination, provision of technical expertise, and facilitation of knowledge-sharing and peer learning among tripartite constituents from countries from the Global South that face similar situations and contexts. The exchange of best practices and the identification of areas for mutual learning or joint work on leveraging ILS and its supervisory processes for inclusive economic growth are also key.


Specifically in the case of ILS on the Informal Economy, South-South Cooperation often aims to work towards formalising the informal economy and integrating International Labour Standards (ILS). While countries aim to reduce informal employment, they often acknowledge the challenges of a significant portion of their workforce being in the informal sector with low regulatory coverage and social protection. To address these issues, South countries can work together to align policy approaches, expand social security based on contributions, and ensure the practical implementation of labour laws. Collaborations can utilize ILO guidance on formalisation strategies and on building comprehensive social security systems.


What could coutries from the South do together? How could they do it?

  • Establish regional knowledge sharing on the formalisation of informal economy;
  • Enhance advocacy on formalisation;
  • Organise regular experience-sharing visits and field immersions between countries;
  • Set up a regional excellence hub for research collaboration on formalisation strategies; and
  • Conduct periodic peer reviews and joint assessments.


Source: Subregional Tripartite Workshop – Promoting Forward Thinking Normative Strategies through South-South Cooperation