Update: 19.08.2011

History of the ILO

The founding of the ILO was directly linked to the First World War; it's Constitution war part of the Peace Treaty at Versailles. Three motives are important regarding the founding of the ILO:

  • First, the founding of the ILO is based on the idea that «universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice» (Preamble);
  • secondly, human rights considerations were important. The idea was to protect post-industrial revolution workers from social misery;
  • thirdly, the protection of the working force was aimed at creating conditions for equal competition amongst states. 

25 years after its foundation, in 1944, the International Labour Conference convened in Philadelphia and adopted the Philadelphia Declaration. It proclaimed that labour is not a commodity. The price of labour shall not be subject alone to market forces. The Philadelphia Declaration led the path to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23.3) and the European Social Charter (Article 4). It was later incorporated into the ILO Constitution as it is binding for all 178 member states of the ILO. 

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