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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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17 The Limits of Lobbying: ILO and Solidarność 423


8=6EI:G The Limits of Lobbying: >AD and Solidarność Idesbald Goddeeris The Polish crisis at the beginning of the s attracted widespread inter- est throughout the Western world. Trade unions were especially moved to show their solidarity with Polish workers by beginning a campaign of sup- port, which intensified after the proclamation of martial law in December . This support was coordinated on the international field by the inter- national trade union confederations (the >8;IJ and L8A), which assisted Solidarność representatives in exile. Together they tried to provide the Polish underground with material, technical and political aid, and lob- bied Western policy-makers over the Polish case. This lobbying took place on several levels: national governments, human rights organizations, and international institutions and meetings (such as the JC Commission of Human and Civil Rights and the follow-up sessions of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, 8H8:). One of the greatest suc- cesses was achieved at the International Labour Organization (>AD). The >AD established a Commission of Inquiry which, at its conclusion in , fiercely condemned the banning of Solidarność. This was a clear judge- ment against Polish authorities, who had attempted to garner international support for their normalization policy. They were not completely without success in certain countries, but were totally isolated by the >AD’s assessment and opted to withdraw from the organization. The >AD had top billing in one of the blockbusters of the early s. This article will discuss the circumstances and impact of the Solidarność case...

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