Louis Emmerij

Interview for the Oral Archives of the ILO Century Project by Gerry Rodgers

Louis Emmerij was born on 25 December 1934 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He started his career at the Institut d’Etudes Economiques et Sociales (ISS) at the University of Paris where he worked until 1962 before joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Directorate of Scientific Affairs. Between 1971 and 1976 Mr. Emmerij headed the World Employment Programme of the ILO in Geneva. After that he became Rector at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Upon completion of his tenure he was appointed President of the OECD Development Centre in Paris in 1986. He became Special Adviser to the President of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. in 1992. From 1999 until 2010 he served as Senior Research Fellow at the Graduate Centre of City University of New York and Co-Director of United Nations Intellectual History Project.

1959 – Undergraduate studies in Economics and Political Science, University of Paris
1961 − MA in International Economics, Columbia University
1971 − Ph.D in Economics of Education, University of Paris
1985 – Honorary Doctorate in Economics from the State University of Ghent

Louis Emmerij explains the linkages between his professional background as a manpower projection expert and the ILO’s World Employment Programme (WEP), which paved his way to the ILO in the 1970s. Mr Emmerij recalls some misunderstanding and resistance in-house with regard to the research carried out by a team of relatively young professionals in the new field of employment which was not yet understood as being linked to the development problem. He expands on the internal functioning of the Office with regard to funding, staff appointment procedures and networking. He analyses the disconnection between relevant programs and departments as well as the bureaucratic constraints. Louis Emmerij then describes how the 1975 World Employment Conference (WEC) came about and how the concept of basic needs was determined as the main theme of it. He shares the opinion that there are connections between the basic needs concept and the human development approach that arguably sprang from it and the way the concept was taken up by the World Bank, USAID and others. He elaborates on the resonance of the WEC report and concludes with some thoughts about the important role of education for employment.

Key words
Bariloche Foundation, Basic Needs Strategy (BNS), Decent Work, European Court of Justice, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), GI Bill, G77, ILO Department on the Quality of Life, informal sector, international labour code, International Programme for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (PIACT), life-long education, neo-liberalism, new international economic order, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), recurrent education, redistribution, structural adjustment, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Intellectual History Project (UNHIP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Washington Consensus, World Bank (WB), World Employment Conference (WEC), World Employment Programme (WEP), 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, 1974 UN Population Conference, 1975 World Food Conference.

Names mentioned
Adelman, Irma; Amar, Abbas; Bhalla, Ajit; Blanchard, Francis; Carter, Jimmy; Chenery, Hollis; Chichilinsky, Graciella; De Givry, Jean; Doctor, Kailas; Faaland, Just; Fortin, Bernard; Galenson, Walter; Ghai, Dharam; Griffin, Keith; Helleiner, Gerry; Hirsch, Etienne; Hopkins, Michael; Hughes, Helen; Jenks, Wilfred; Jolly, Richard; Kirkland, Lane; Mendez, Jorge; Morse, David; Mr. Pathmaraja, Paukert; Felix; Phillips, Kjell; Ranis, Gus; Sen, Amartya; Seers, Dudley; Singer, Hans; Skolnik, Hugo; Sykes, John; Ul Haq, Mahbub; Valticos, Nicolas; Weaver, George; Weeks, John; Zmirou-Navier, Denis; Zoeteweij, Bert.

Should you wish to obtain the full transcript of this authorized oral interview or quote from it, you can obtain permission by contacting ilocentury@ilo.org. The views expressed are those of the interviewee, and the inclusion of the interview and/or its transcript, either partly or in full, on the ILO Century Project website does not constitute an endorsement of their contents by the ILO.