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ILO Histories

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


Edited By Jasmien Van Daele, Magaly Rodriguez Garcia and Geert van Goethem

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».


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5 The ILOand the Freedom of Association as the Ideal of the Christian Trade Unions 115


8=6EI:G The >AD and the Freedom of Association as the Ideal of the Christian Trade Unions Patrick Pasture Private societies, then, although they exist within the body politic, and are severally part of the commonwealth, cannot nevertheless be absolutely, and as such, prohibited by public authority. For, to enter into a ‘society’ of this kind is the natural right of man; and the State has for its off ice to protect natural rights, not to destroy them; and, if it forbid its citizens to form asso- ciations, it contradicts the very principle of its own existence, for both they and it exist in virtue of the like principle, namely, the natural tendency of man to dwell in society (Rerum novarum, , art. ). The Members undertake to nominate non-Government delegates and advis- ers chosen in agreement with the industrial organizations, if such organiza- tions exist, which are most representative of employers or workpeople, as the case may be, in their respective countries (Treaty of Versailles, June , Part M>>>, Section I, Chapter I, art. ; >AD Constitution, art. .). The freedom of association is one of the basic principles of the >AD recog- nized in the preamble of its constitution. It is one of the cornerstones of democracy and in particular a way of expressing pluralism. However, it has turned out to be one of the most contested values and perhaps the most difficult to uphold. Even the >AD has struggled with it more than once. In that struggle, Christian labour and in...

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