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Part XIII.—Labour

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION

Notes to Part XIII, Articles 1 [387] to 41 [427]

“When the new edition of the Constitution and Rules in which were to be incorporated the amendments consequential on the amendment to Article 393 [7] was being prepared, the Office was led to consider whether ‘Part XIII of the Treaty of Versailles’ was the most appropriate title for the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation. Since the Constitution also forms part of the other three Treaties of Peace in which the articles are numbered differently, there seemed to be no good reason why specific reference should always be made to one of the Treaties rather than to another.

“After the matter had been brought to the notice of the Standing Orders Committee, it was thought desirable, in order to overcome the difficulty, to use the title ‘Constitution of the International Labour Organisation’ and to indicate in a footnote that the Constitution formed a certain specified part of the various Treaties of Peace. The Governing Body will see that the articles have been renumbered 1, 2, 3, etc. of the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation and that the numbers of the various articles of the Treaty of Versailles, which hitherto have been the most generally used, have, for the sake of convenience, been given in brackets.”—Director’s Report, 69th session of the Governing Body, January 24–February 2, 1935; Minutes of the 69th session, p. 165.

The treaty restoring friendly relations between the United States and Germany signed at Berlin, August 25, 1921 and in force on November 11, 1921 with retroactive effect to July 2, 1921 stipulated in article II (3) “that the United States assumes no obligations under or with respect to the provisions” of this part. The Senate of the United States in its resolution of October 18, 1921 giving advice and consent to the ratification of the treaty restoring friendly relations stipulated “that the United States shall not be represented or participate in any body, agency or commission, nor shall any person represent the United States as a member of any body, agency or commission in which the United States is authorized to participate [Page 693]by this Treaty, unless and until an Act of Congress of the United States shall provide for such representation or participation.”

Part XIII of the treaty was not printed as an annex, technically a schedule, of the treaty restoring friendly relations by the Department of State in Treaty Series 658, nor in 42 Stat. 1939. The entire treaty of peace with Germany, as well as those with Austria and Hungary, was printed as a separate appendix reading with the treaty restoring friendly relations in the volume compiled under resolution of the Senate of August 19, 1921, and published as Senate Document 348, 67th Congress, 4th session, serial 8167 (Treaties, Conventions, etc., 1910–23, iii, 3329).

Public Resolution 43, 73d Congress, 2d session (48 Stat. 1182), approved June 19, 1934, reads as follows:

Whereas progress toward the solution of the problems of international competition in industry can be made through international action concerning the welfare of wage earners; and

Whereas the failure of a nation to establish humane conditions of labor is an obstacle in the way of other nations which desire to maintain and improve the conditions in their own countries; and

Whereas the United States early recognized the desirability of international cooperation in matters pertaining to labor and took part in 1900 in establishing, and for many years thereafter supported, the International Association for Labor Legislation; and

Whereas the International Labor Organization has advanced the welfare of labor throughout the world through studies, recommendations, conferences, and conventions concerning conditions of labor; and

Whereas other nations have joined the International Labor Organization without being members of the League of Nations; and

Whereas special provision has been made in the constitution of the International Labor Organization by which membership of the United States would not impose or be deemed to impose any obligation or agreement upon the United States to accept the proposals of that body as involving anything more than recommendations for its consideration:

Therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is hereby authorized to accept membership for the Government of the United States of America in the international Labor Organization, which, through its general conference of representatives of its members and through its International Labor Office, collects information concerning labor throughout the world and prepares international conventions for the consideration of member governments with a view to improving conditions of labor.

Sec. 2. That in accepting such membership the President shall assume on behalf of the United States no obligation under the covenant of the League of Nations.”

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The eighteenth session of the International Labor Conference unanimously adopted the following resolution on June 22, 1934:

“The International Labour Conference

“takes note of the communication of 22 June 1934 addressed to the Director of the International Labour Office by the authorised representative of the Government of the United States of America,

“heartily welcomes the decision of the Congress of the United States authorising the President to accept on behalf of the Government of the United States Membership in the International Labour Organisation, recalling that it has always been the firm conviction of the Organisation that its ends could be more effectively advanced if the Membership of the Organisation could be made universal,

“hereby decides

“to invite the Government of the United States to accept Membership in the International Labour Organisation it being understood that such acceptance involves only those rights and obligations provided for in the constitution of the Organisation and shall not involve any obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations,

“and further decides

“That, in the event of the Government of the United States accepting Membership, the Governing Body is hereby authorised to arrange with the Government of the United States any questions arising out of its Membership including the question of its financial contribution.”

That invitation was accepted on behalf of the United States by the American Consul at Geneva in a letter dated August 20, 1934 to the Director of the International Labor Office, which stated:

Sir: In your letter to me of June 22, 1934, you advised that the International Labor Conference had unanimously adopted a Resolution inviting the Government of the United States of America to accept membership in the International Labor Organization and there was transmitted with your letter a copy of the Resolution, which in extending the invitation states ‘that such acceptance involves only those rights and obligations provided for in the constitution of the Organization and shall not involve any obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations’.

“I am now writing to say that, exercising the authority conferred on him by a Joint Resolution of the Congress of the United States approved June 19, 1934, the President of the United States accepts the invitation heretofore indicated, such acceptance to be effective on August 20, 1934, and, of course, subject to the understandings expressed in the Conference Resolution, and has directed me to inform you accordingly.”

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The acknowledgment of that communication by the Acting Director of the Office on August 21, 1934 confirmed the membership of the United States in these words:

Sir: I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 20th August in which you inform the Director of the International Labour Office that the President of the United States of America, exercising the authority conferred on him by a joint resolution of the Congress of the United States approved June 19, 1934, accepts the invitation to assume Membership of the International Labour Organisation extended to the Government of the United States by the resolution, adopted by the International Labour Conference of 22 June 1934, and communicated to you in the Director’s letter of the same date.

“I note that such acceptance is effective on August 20, 1934, and is subject to the understandings expressed in the Conference resolution.”

The Constitution of the International Labor Organization in a certified true copy dated August 22, 1934 is printed in 49 Stat. 2712 and in Treaty Series 874, where the Public Resolution of June 19, 1934 and subsequent related papers also appear.