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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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15 The “Morse Years”: The ILO 1948-1970 365


8=6EI:G The “Morse Years”: The >AD - Daniel Roger Maul Apart from the days of Albert Thomas, there is hardly a phase in the Inter- national Labour Organization’s history that can more aptly be deemed an “era” than the years from to during which the >AD found itself under the leadership of the American David A. Morse. Under Morse, the >AD went through a period of transformation which changed its face more dramatically and fundamentally than has been seen at any other point in its history. The following contribution is divided into two parts. The first sec- tion provides an overview of the history of the >AD during the twenty-two years which formed the Morse Era. This part is intended to shed light on the historical-political context in which Morse took office in and which shaped his time as director-general. The main focus here is the way in which the two major arenas of international conf lict during the post- war decades – the Cold War and the dissolution of the European colonial empires – affected the >AD. Against this backdrop the article will also exam- ine the degree to which the >AD’s actions under Morse’s leadership ref lected the director-general’s own political background as a liberal internation- alist New Dealer and representative of an important strand of American thinking on foreign policy and the role of international organizations in For evaluations of the Morse years, see Alcock, History of the International Labour Organi- sation; Ghebali, The International Labour Organization;...

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