In the early 1980's, strong voices in human rights, labor, academic, and faith-based communities formed a coalition to fight for the rights of workers in international trade. In 1984, the coalition succeeded in winning legislation linking the granting of US trade and investment benefits to a country's respect for fundamental labor rights. In 1986, they launched the International Labor Rights Education & Research Fund (its name was later shortened to the International Labor Rights Forum, (ILRF)) to monitor enforcement of these laws and to develop other means to protect workers' rights around the world.
Through the years, the ILRF has become an instrumental force in stimulating solutions to the issues and problems of worker rights and labor standards around the world. Many of our successes have resulted from participation in and leadership of NGO coalitions; close collaboration with trade unions, other human rights groups, religious and consumer organizations; and ongoing dialogue with governments and businesses.
In early 2007 ILRF altered its name from International Labor Rights Fund" to "International Labor Rights Forum" and also spun off its litigation to become a new project titled International Rights Advocates. In February 2010, ILRF and SweatFree Communities joined forces in order to further increase our ability to create change for workers around the world. ILRF continues to push for strong systemic change within trade systems, government institutions and industry supply chains so that workers can have a voice on the job.