How can we appraise the record of the International Labour Organization (ILO, 1919–2019) over the last century? In the present essay it is argued that the first half century of the ILO consisted of “fat years,” in which regulating the global labor market achieved limited but clear progress, and that the second half century was a time of “lean years,” when the ILO accomplished less. Following a brief review of the origins and early history of the ILO, the essay illustrates this by showing how the relative attainments from the period until around 1970 were subsequently weakened. Unless it manages to reinvent itself in the near future, the organization is now in danger of further marginalization.
The International Labour Organization, 1919–2019: An Appraisal
MARCEL VAN DER LINDEN is Senior Fellow at the International Institute of Social History, where he served as research director between 2001 and 2014. He was also, since 1997, professor of social movement history at the University of Amsterdam. He is a cofounder of the Association of Indian Labour Historians (1996), the European Labour History Network (2013), and the Global Labour History Network (2015). He is also president of the International Social History Association (2005–10, 2010–15, 2015–20). His books and articles have been published in seventeen languages. Recent publications include Transnational Labour History: Explorations (2003); Western Marxism and the Soviet Union: A Survey of Critical Theories and Debates since 1917 (2007); Workers of the World: Essays toward a Global Labor History (2008).
Marcel van der Linden; The International Labour Organization, 1919–2019: An Appraisal. Labor 1 May 2019; 16 (2): 11–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-7323601
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