ILO Histories

Essays on the International Labour Organization and Its Impact on the World During the Twentieth Century

by Jasmien Van Daele (Volume editor) Magaly Rodriguez Garcia (Volume editor) Geert van Goethem (Volume editor)
©2011 Edited Collection 540 Pages


In 2009, the International Labour Organization (ILO) celebrated its ninetieth anniversary. The First World War and the revolutionary wave it provoked in Russia and elsewhere were powerful inspirations for the founding of the ILO. There was a growing understanding that social justice, in particular by improving labour conditions, was an essential precondition for universal peace. Since then, the ILO has seen successes and set-backs; it has been ridiculed and praised. Much has been written about the ILO; there are semi-official histories and some critical studies on the organization’s history have recently been published. Yet, further source-based critical and comprehensive analyses of the organization’s origins and development are still lacking. The present collection of eighteen essays is an attempt to change this unsatisfactory situation by complementing those histories that already exist, exploring new topics, and offering new perspectives. It is guided by the observation that the ILO’s history is not primarily about «elaborating beautiful texts and collecting impressive instruments for ratification» but about effecting «real change and more happiness in peoples’ lives».


Publication date
2011 (August)
Inter-Governmental and International Law Labour, Industry, Business and Economic Sociology International Relations
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2010. 539 pp., 1 graph

Biographical notes

Jasmien Van Daele (Volume editor) Magaly Rodriguez Garcia (Volume editor) Geert van Goethem (Volume editor)

Jasmien Van Daele (1977) is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Contemporary History of Ghent University, Belgium. She holds a PhD on the early history of the ILO within the broader research framework of transnational welfare state development. Her publications include «Engineering Social Peace: Networks, Ideas, and the Founding of the ILO» (International Review of Social History, 2005); «The ILO in Past and Present Research» (International Review of Social History, 2008); and The ILO and the Quest for Social Justice, 1919-2009 (2009). Magaly Rodríguez García (1973) works as Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, in a project dealing with prostitutes and their views on labour. She has published on internationalist views of Marxist socialists and liberals, and the international free trade union movement in Europe and Latin America. Geert Van Goethem (1957) is Director of Amsab-Institute of Social History in Ghent, Belgium. He has written about the history of the Belgian labour and trade union movement and about international trade unionism. His recent publications include The Amsterdam International. The World of the International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), 1913-1945 (2006). Marcel van der Linden (1952) is Research Director of the International Institute of Social History, and Professor of Social Movement History at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His recent publications include Workers of the World. Essays toward a Global Labor History (2008) and Western Marxism and the Soviet Union. A Survey of Critical Theories and Debates Since 1917 (2009).


Title: ILO Histories