This thesis aims to provide insight to the issue of multilateral organizations cooperating with private actors in order to increase their relevance in a rapidly changing world.The cases elaborated on are two issue and sector specific initiatives where the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has engaged with the tobacco and cocoa industry to combat child labor. The ILO is in need to increase their influence and reputation as it has been criticized for being a weak and irrelevant organization. At the same time as new methods for combating child labor is needed, the question of how to make global business more compatible with societal goals is gaining renewed attention. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has thus opened up new opportunities for combating child labor, and the ILO has entered into these partnerships with the hope that business can contribute in eliminating this problem. However, CSR has been accused of being nothing but window dressing for TNCs trying to improve their image. Being associated with a UN agency may provide this sort of image washing , in this thesis referred to as bluewash. The thesis focus on the importance of the role the ILO plays in these two initiatives, and whether or not the ILO is able to influence and regulate the two industries involved.
Using interviews of different stakeholder involved, the thesis illustrates that the ILO plays an important role within the partnerships due to their knowledge, expertise and moral authority, but they are unable to regulate business to a large extent. Even though the ILO may influence on the corporations CSR initiatives, as to make these more efficient, the ILO is in no position to question the basic structures of the industries. However, there are indirect benefits for the ILO and for the issue of child labor in terms of increased government attention to this problem, and enhanced trade unions in the countries concerned.
The thesis alleges that the ILO does not bluewash the cocoa and tobacco industries CSR efforts, but that the ILO should be careful in the future if funding should get involved, as the organization should not depend on private actors to achieve its goals