International Labor Organization

International Labor Organization (ILO), specialized agency of the United Nations, with headquarters in Geneva. It was created in 1919 by the Versailles Treaty and affiliated with the League of Nations until 1945, when it voted to sever ties with the League. In 1946 it became the first specialized agency of the United Nations. Although not a member of the League, the United States joined the ILO in 1934. Through international action and by bringing together representatives of government, employers, and labor, the ILO seeks to improve labor conditions, promote a higher standard of living, and further social justice. Promotion of international accord on such matters as regulation of hours of work, provision of adequate wages, protection of workers against occupational disease and injury, and protection of women and children and of those who work outside their own countries (who may be forced into labor through deceptive recruiting practices) accounts for much of its activities. The ILO consists of a general conference of representatives of the members (four from each member state—two from the government, an employer, and a worker) that meets once a year, a governing body of 56 people (28 representing governments, 14 employers, and 14 labor) that meets three times a year, and an International Labor Office controlled by the governing body. The ILO is financed by contributions from member states; 187 countries belong to the organization. Protesting the political policies of the organization, the United States withdrew from the ILO between 1977 and 1980. The ILO received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969. The organization puts out a number of publications containing statistics on labor and advice for workers.


See D. A. Morse, The Origin and Evolution of the I.L.O. and Its Role in the World Community (1969); C. W. Jenks, Social Justice and the Law of Nations (1970); A. E. Alcock, History of the International Labour Organisation (1971); V. Y. Ghebali, The International Labour Organisation (1989); M. Imber, The USA, ILO, UNESCO and IAEA (1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

International Labor Organization: Selected full-text books and articles

The International Labor Organization: The International Standards System and Basic Human Rights By Hector Bartolomei de la Cruz; Geraldo Von Potobsky; Lee Swepston Westview Press, 1996
Human Rights, Labor Rights, and International Trade By Lance A. Compa; Stephen F. Diamond University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "From Intention to Action: An ILO-GATT/WTO Enforcement Regime for International Labor Rights"
The ILO and Tripartism: Some Reflections By Simpson, William R Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 117, No. 9, September 1994
Training Programs: The Key to Achieving ILO Goals By Salt, Allan Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 117, No. 9, September 1994
International Organizations and the Analysis of Economic Policy, 1919-1950 By Anthony M. Endres; Grant A. Fleming Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Social Economics at the ILO: Scope, Content, and Significance"
Chicago Labor and the Quest for a Democratic Diplomacy, 1914-1924 By Elizabeth McKillen Cornell University Press, 1995
Librarian's tip: Chap. Three "Innocent Abroad: Gompers, the International Labor Organization, and AFL Foreign Policy, 1919-1922"
Protecting Workers' Health in the Third World: National and International Strategies By Michael R. Reich; Toshiteru Okubo Auburn House, 1992
Librarian's tip: Chap. 12 "The Role of the ILO in Promoting Occupational Health and Safety in Developing Countries"
Migrant Workers in International Human Rights Law: Their Protection in Countries of Employment By Ryszard Cholewinski Clarendon Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "The Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families by the ILO with Particular Reference to the Migrant Workers Instruments of 1949 and 1975"
Employment and Human Rights: The International Dimension By Richard Lewis Siegel University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994
Librarian's tip: Appendix I "International Labor Organization"
Rethinking International Organization: Deregulation and Global Governance By Barbara Emadi-Coffin Routledge, 2002
Librarian's tip: "The International Labor Organization" begins on p. 132
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