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ILO Histories

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

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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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7 Constructing a European Social Model: The Fight for Social Insurance in the Interwar Period 173

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8=6EI:G Constructing a European Social Model: The Fight for Social Insurance in the Interwar Period Sandrine Kott There are two main ways of studying the construction of a European social model. Following the pioneering work of Hartmut Kaelble, one can try to highlight the progressive convergence of various national social poli- cies from the ground up. Another way, which can be combined with the first, would be to look at the social measures implemented by international or European organizations from the top down. Although social policy has never been the priority of European institutions, it has been seen as an important part of the slow process of the institutionalization of Europe from the beginning. The Council of Europe [hereafter, “Council”], founded in , was aimed at restoring peace and avoiding new conf licts in Europe by bringing states together. Beyond these diplomatic efforts, it also aimed at reconciling the people and forging a common European identity that would make future war impossible. Therefore, the Council initiated Euro- pean cultural projects to lay the foundations of this common identity. But the construction of a European social space, by grounding the European idea in the everyday life of the people, was another means of encouraging the emergence of this European community of people. In , the initial conference of the Council discussed the possibility of setting up multilat- eral agreements on social legislation, a project which was then restricted to social security. International Labour Office [hereafter, “Office”] mem- bers – and in particular...

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