The Bureau of International Labor Affairs leads the U.S. Department of Labor's efforts to ensure that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy. ILAB's mission is to improve global working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers' ability to exercise their rights, and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations. Our efforts help to ensure a fair playing field for American workers and contribute to stronger export markets for goods made in the United States.
Our work is carried out by three functional offices:
Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)
- research and publication of major reports on international child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking;
- funding and oversight of projects to eliminate exploitive child labor and forced labor around the world; and
- assistance in the development and implementation of U.S. government policy on international child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking issues.
Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA)
- Economic & Labor Research (ELR)
- Trade Policy & Negotiations (TPN)
- Monitoring & Enforcement of Trade Agreements (META)
- Technical Assistance & Cooperation (TAC)
Office of International Relations (OIR)
- International Organizations
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Committee
- United Nations
- Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor of the Organization of American States
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
- G20 labor ministers process
- United States-European Union Working Group on Employment and Labor-Related Issues under the New Transatlantic Agenda
- Policies on Labor-Related Matters
- Regional Specialists
- East Asia and the Pacific
- Europe and Eurasia
Kristin Lipke Sparding
- Near East
- South and Central Asia
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- Western Hemisphere
The mission of OCFT is to promote the elimination of child labor and forced labor through policy, research, and technical assistance projects.
OCFT was created in 1993 in response to a request from Congress to investigate and report on child labor around the world. As domestic and international concern about child labor has grown, OCFT's activities have significantly expanded. Today, these activities include:
The mission of OTLA is to implement trade-related labor policy and coordinate international technical cooperation in support of the labor provisions in free trade agreements; to develop and implement the Department of Labor's policy positions on international economic and trade issues; and to fund and oversee technical assistance projects addressing worker rights issues in key trading partner countries.
OTLA consists of the following divisions:
ELR is responsible for providing objective, research-based guidance to OTLA divisions on economic, trade and labor issues, and supports evidence-based decision making within ILAB. ELR staff perform high-caliber analysis to inform the design and evaluation (impact) of technical assistance projects, to support and complement office-level labor rights monitoring and research, and to develop and present strong policy positions. In addition, staff conduct research on economic policy issues, development, international trade and labor issues; prepare legislative and Congressionally-mandated research on trade and labor; and provide representation on international labor issues. ELR funds outside researchers to conduct in-depth studies to supplement our research.
TPN provides staff support for the Department of Labor's participation in the interagency development and implementation of U.S. policy related to multilateral and bilateral trade and investment issues. The Division, for example, participates actively in the negotiation of U.S. free trade agreements, and the administration of U.S. trade preference programs. The Division helps formulate U.S. policy in the area of import relief for imports that injure or threaten to injure domestic industries and their workers. The Division also participates in interagency deliberations concerning the elimination of certain unfair trade practices and provides input into other trade policy areas (such as trade remedies and national security investigations) that may have an impact on U.S. workers. TPN also helps negotiate the guidelines governing lending by mulilateral development banks and international financial institutions.
META administers several functions related to the labor provisions of U.S. free trade agreements. We communicate and cooperate with labor ministries and international organizations, assess labor problems, make recommendations, and provide assistance to help strengthen labor standards. We also review complaints, known as submissions, alleging that a trading partner has violated the conditions required by the labor chapter of a free trade agreement. META is the designated contact point within the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs for labor matters under each of the free trade agreements.
TAC funds and oversees technical assistance projects that build the capacity of governments, workers, and employers to improve respect for worker rights. The Division currently has over 25 active technical cooperation projects across the globe that provide approximately $76 million in technical assistance to improve worker rights, livelihoods and labor law compliance. Since 1995, we have developed programs in more than 72 countries addressing a wide range of labor issues.
OIR represents, coordinates, and facilitates U.S. Government participation in the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the labor components of international organizations; provides expertise, research and advice on labor and employment trends and issues in foreign countries; and helps facilitate the sharing of information between specialized DOL agencies and other countries.
OIR has the lead role within the U.S. Government on policy and program issues related to the ILO. OIR also carries out responsibilities on behalf of the U.S. Government at the:
All of these organizations conduct significant research and policy discussions on the important labor issues of the day.
OIR conducts research on international labor issues and advises senior administration and officials on these and related policy matters in foreign countries. The office provides expertise and conducts research and analyses on labor issues in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East in support of the Administration's foreign policy priorities and also reports on foreign labor developments and global labor issues. It also manages the Department's International Visitors Program and assists in the training and support of State Department Foreign Service Officers.
OIR's specialists stay abreast of labor, political, and economic developments in countries and regions of strategic importance to the United States and provide technical and policy advice to senior U.S. government officials in these areas. OIR also conducts research in specialized areas to inform U.S. policy makers. They cover the following regions:
For other inquiries, please call OIR's main phone line: (202) 693-4855 or email Contact-OIR@dol.gov.