Americans have played a major role in the formation and leadership of the ILO

Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, was chairman of the commission that drafted the ILO constitution at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Henry M. Robinson, an employer delegate, also actively participated as a member of the commission. Two Americans – John Winant (1939-41) and David Morse (1948-70) – have served with distinction as Director-General of the ILO. Winant’s main task was to prepare the ILO for the imminent World War and post-war reconstruction. During Morse’s term, newly independent countries joined the ILO, establishing a more universal scope to the ILO’s work and providing the impetus for the development of technical cooperation programs. Morse also received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the ILO in 1969. In 1991, a bi-annual lecture series on international social policy was established in his honor with the endowment from the prize money.