International Labor Organization (ILO), specialized agency of the United Nations, with headquarters in Geneva. It was created in 1919 by the Versailles Treaty and affiliated with the League of Nations until 1945, when it voted to sever ties with the League. In 1946 it became the first specialized agency of the United Nations. Although not a member of the League, the United States joined the ILO in 1934. Through international action and by bringing together representatives of government, employers, and labor, the ILO seeks to improve labor conditions, promote a higher standard of living, and further social justice. Promotion of international accord on such matters as regulation of hours of work, provision of adequate wages, protection of workers against occupational disease and injury, and protection of women and children and those who work outside their own countries accounts for much of its activities. The ILO consists of a general conference of representatives of the members (four from each member state—two from the government, an employer, and a worker) that meets once a year, a governing body of 56 people (28 representing governments, 14 employers, and 14 labor) that meets three times a year, and an International Labor Office controlled by the governing body. The ILO is financed by contributions from member states; 182 countries belong to the organization. Protesting the political policies of the organization, the United States withdrew from the ILO between 1977 and 1980. The ILO received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969. The organization puts out a number of publications containing statistics on labor and advice for workers.
See D. A. Morse, The Origin and Evolution of the I.L.O. and Its Role in the World Community (1969); C. W. Jenks, Social Justice and the Law of Nations (1970); A. E. Alcock, History of the International Labour Organisation (1971); V. Y. Ghebali, The International Labour Organisation (1989); M. Imber, The USA, ILO, UNESCO and IAEA (1989).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.