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ILO activities in the post-war world (Part 1: 1946-1959)

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  1. Key documents

The constitutional review of 1946

The 27th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), which was held in Paris in October-November 1945, decided to create a tripartite Conference Delegation on Constitutional Questions. The delegation, whose task was to draw up a draft constitutional amendment, met twice, in January-February 1945 in London and in May 1946 in Montreal. The 29th Session of the ILC (Montreal, 1946), working on the basis of the delegation’s reports, adopted a new instrument to amend the ILO Constitution on 9 October 1946. That instrument entered into force on 20 April 1948.

One of the main amendments to the Constitution was the incorporation as an annex to the revised Constitution of the Philadelphia Declaration, replacing Article 41 of the previous version. The incorporation of this text served to broaden ILO’s objectives.

The constitutional review also led to changes in the supervisory system for international labour standards, specifically in the procedure for examining reports submitted under articles 19 and 22.

Thus, while the ILO Constitution prescribes no formal duty to ratify conventions, there is nevertheless a legal obligation on States to help the Organization fulfil its task by endeavouring in good faith to ratify conventions whose application can be guaranteed at national level, without necessarily expecting other States to do the same. Although States are required to submit reports on this question, the commitment is voluntary and unilateral. Paragraph 5(e) of article 19 of the Constitution stipulates that States that have not ratified a convention must report, at intervals determined by the Governing Body, stating the difficulties preventing or delaying ratification or to what extent their legislation or practice nonetheless gives effect to the convention’s provisions. (See International labour standards and technical cooperation, p. 4)

At the same time, ILO took the necessary steps to leave the League of Nations and join the newly founded United Nations.

The International Labour Organization, the first United Nations specialized agency

At the end of the war, no one questioned the importance of ILO, but its place and role with regard to the newly founded United Nations remained to be defined.

The International Labour Conference, meeting in its 27th Session in Paris in October-November 1945, adopted a resolution confirming the desire of ILO to enter into relationship with the United Nations on terms to be determined by agreement. Starting in 1946, negotiations aimed at defining the exact modes of liaison between the two organizations were engaged. The United Nations Economic and Social Council set up a committee to negotiate with the delegations from specialized institutions, with a view to reaching agreements on the modes of liaison. “After rather difficult negotiations the Negotiating Delegation had arrived at an arrangement which it unanimously regarded as extremely satisfactory to the Organisation. […] It found that the Negotiating Committee of the Economic and Social Council was most co-operative and did its best to meet the Delegation on all the points to which the latter attached particular importance.” (See Minutes of the 99th Session of the Governing Body, p. 15)

The Agreement between the United Nations and ILO was signed in New York on 30 May 1946 by A. Ramaswami Mudaliar, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and Chairman of the Council Committee in charge of negotiating with the specialized institutions, and G. Myrddin-Evans, Chairman of the ILO Governing Body and of the ILO Negotiating Delegation: “The United Nations recognises the International Labour Organisation as a specialised agency responsible for taking such action as may be appropriate under its basic instrument for the accomplishment of the purposes set forth therein” (see Agreement between the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation, article 1)

The Agreement made ILO the first specialized agency under the terms of article 57 of the United Nations Charter (Chapter IX).

Establishment of the ILO Administrative Tribunal

Albert Thomas, ILO Director from 1920 to 1932, was one of the chief architects of the Administrative Tribunal of the League of Nations, the predecessor of the ILO Administrative Tribunal. He first demanded the institution of a legal body with jurisdiction to settle disputes between League of Nations or ILO officials and their organization in 1921. It was not until 20 September 1927, however, that the League of Nations Assembly officially adopted the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal. Between 1929 and 1946, the Tribunal held eight sessions and handed down 37 judgments.

n 18 April 1946, under the terms of the resolution relating to the dissolution of the League of Nations, the Administrative Tribunal was officially transferred to ILO. The transfer was accepted by the ILO Governing Body in May 1946. In October 1946, the International Labour Conference (ILC) provisionally adopted the Tribunal’s new Statute. It confirmed the Statute at its following session, in July 1947. The ILO Administrative Tribunal was born. In 1949, the ILC amended the Tribunal’s Statute to permit other international organizations approved by the Governing Body to recognize the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, enabling eleven such organizations to bring cases before the Tribunal:

  • the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT),
  • the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),
  • the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property,
  • the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN),
  • Eurocontrol,
  • the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),
  • the World Meteorological Organization (WMO),
  • the World Health Organization (WHO),
  • the International Telecommunication Union (ITU),
  • the Universal Postal Union.
At present, the Administrative Tribunal’s jurisdiction is recognized by 55 international organizations.

  1. 1946-1959:
    ILO activities in the post-war world (Part 1: 1946-1959)
    1. 1946
    2. 1947
    3. 1948
    4. 1949
    5. 1950
    6. 1951
    7. 1952
    8. 1953
    9. 1955
    10. 1957
    11. 1958
  2. 1919-1939
  3. 1940-1945
  4. 1960-1988
  5. 1989-1998
  6. 1999-

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Last update: 23.02.2015 ^ top