Report by the Chief of the Division of International Labor, Social and Health Affairs (Mulliken)2

Report on the 95th Session of the Governing Body of the International Labor Organization

From June 14 to June 27, in the capacity of a representative of the Department of State accompanying Mr. Carter Goodrich, United States Representative on the Governing Body, I attended the 95th Session of the Governing Body of the International Labor Office.3 I also attended meetings of the following committees held in conjunction with the session of the Governing Body: the Employment Committee, the Constitutional Committee, and the Finance Committee. The work of these committees resulted primarily in reports to the Governing Body which will be described in connection with the meetings of the Governing Body. Summaries of the committee meetings are appended.4

Reference is made below to the matters taken up in the meeting of the Governing Body which are of special interest to the Department.

Statement of United States Policy Toward the ILO

Miss Perkins, then Secretary of Labor, attended the meeting of the Governing Body on June 21 and gave an address in which she stated the United States position with reference to the ILO. This position had received the approval of the President and Mr. Grew.5 Her statement to the Governing Body was in part as follows: [Page 1531]

“President Truman has asked me to say to you that the Government of the United States will continue to take full part in the work of the ILO and will continue to look to it for information, guidance and leadership on the international plane in the improvement’ of labor standards and the development of measures to combat poverty everywhere.

“The President also hopes that the ILO will be able to pursue its activities in cooperative relationship with the proposed general organization of the United Nations under arrangements providing sufficient autonomy to permit of its putting forth its greatest effort. It is the settled policy of the United States Government to seek for the ILO a proper place within the framework of the coordinated effort of the United Nations.”


At the 94th Session of the Governing Body in London it had been agreed to consider at the next meeting the question of the Director of the ILO. Mr. Edward J. Phelan has been Acting Director since 1941 and there was considerable support, especially on the part of the workers group in the Governing Body, to elect him director. After discussions in Washington by representatives of this Department and the Department of Labor and a discussion of the matter by, the President, the Secretary of Labor and Mr. Grew, instructions were formulated for the United States Representative which called for the United States favoring a postponement of the election of a Director. I subsequently, received instructions from the Department to approach the representatives of other governments, informing them of the position of the United States. This was done. After a series of informal consultations at Quebec the decision was reached not to bring this matter formally before the Governing Body. Hence, no definite action was taken one way or the other.

The question of the Directorship of the ILO, however, remains a problem which will require action in the future and on which the Department should formulate its views as to an appropriate candidate. Mr. Carter Goodrich and Miss Perkins have been considered by some as possible candidates for this position. General information made available to me at Quebec would suggest that neither of them could be elected to the position. There are no other definitely known candidates from the United States, and Mr. Bevin, former Minister of Labor in the United Kingdom, and Mr. Tixier, Minister of Interior in the present Government of France, are the only persons whose names have even been mentioned in this connection.

Budget for 1946

The Finance Committee submitted a proposed budget for 1946 which would involve the expenditure of 11,521,510 Swiss francs as [Page 1532] compared with the budget of 11,525,505 Swiss francs for 1945. It is estimated that this budget will require a contribution on the part of the United States of approximately $495,000. It will be recalled that the Department is responsible for obtaining this appropriation from the Congress.

Readmission of Italy

Pursuant to instructions issued by the Department, the United States Representative took the lead in recommending that Italy should be readmitted to the ILO. The motion to this effect was opposed only by the representative of the Government of Greece. Since the Governing Body does not recommend specifically to the Conference what action it should take, the motion took the form of referring the request of Italy for readmittance to the Conference with the expression of hope on the part of the Governing Body that the Conference would consider the matter favorably.

Inter-American Conference of Members of the ILO

The Mexican Government had extended to the Organization an invitation to hold the next Regional Conference of the American States in Mexico City in 1946. The Governing Body accepted this invitation and agreed upon the following agenda for the Conference:

The Director’s report on social and economic problems of American countries. This report would discuss amongst other things industrialization, immigration, the relationship between wages and prices and the conditions of life of the indigenous population of the American countries.
The following technical subjects:
Vocational training
Labor inspection
Industrial relations

No definite date was established for this Conference but the Mexican Ambassador to Canada, who was representing the Mexican Government, suggested March, April, or May of 1946.6

Date of 27th International Labor Conference

After extended debate which involved the relations of the ILO to the World Federation of Trade Unions, the decision was made to convene the 27th International Labor Conference in Paris on October 10, 1945.

Invitation to Send Observers

In connection with the above mentioned Conference, it was decided to extend invitations to send observers to all nations not members of the ILO who were invited to the United Nations Conference on International [Page 1533] Organization. The interpretation was placed on this invitation that the observers might include not only representatives of the Government but also of workers and employers organizations.


It will be recalled that the invitation to Finland to attend the 26th International Labor Conference7 occasioned unfavorable comment, especially on the part of the U.S.S.R. With this in mind, consideration was given to the question of inviting Finland to attend the Preparatory Maritime Conference. The Department had instructed the United States Representative to favor extending an invitation to Finland, and this action was taken by the Governing Body.

Bulgaria and Hungary

The question arose as to whether invitations to attend the 27th Conference should be issued to Bulgaria and Hungary. The view was adopted that this should not be done unless there were in those countries at the time governments recognized by the major powers. This position was consistent with the instructions issued to the United States Representative.

Constitutional Committee

The Constitutional Committee, which had been established at the 93rd meeting of the Governing Body, presented to the Governing Body a report of its Delegation to UNCIO.8 This report was simply a descriptive account of the relations of the ILO to UNCIO, the unsuccessful move by the United Kingdom Delegation to have the ILO mentioned in the Charter, and a description of the provisions relating to the Economic and Social Council. No definitive action was taken by either the Constitutional Committee or by the Governing Body on any constitutional question. A report of the Standing Orders Committee was accepted but this report simply cited the fact that the standing orders were being revised and that this revised text would be presented to the Conference. No constitutional questions were involved.

Employment Committee

The report of the Employment Committee was adopted after extended discussion of what was alleged to be the failure of the Office to give the problem of employment adequate consideration. The report commented on a study being prepared by the Office on “The Training and Employment of Disabled Workers” and recommended [Page 1534] the adoption of two draft forms for reports by governments on the Employment (Transition from War to Peace) Recommendation, 1944, and the Employment Service Recommendation, 1944.


The Governing Body voted that the United States Representative on the Governing Body should be one of its representatives on the Iron and Steel Industrial Committee. A decision was reached to reconstitute the Agricultural Committee of the ILO.

Two facts of possible political significance should be mentioned. The relations of the ILO with the USSR were obviously constantly in the minds of the members of the Governing Body although no definite action was taken on this matter except to make the statement in a public session that the USSR had been invited in December, 1943, to rejoin the ILO. The Government of Yugoslavia is entitled to have a representative on the Governing Body. Although the notifications of the meeting were duly sent to the representative of the Yugoslav Government in London, no representative appeared. This may be of political significance in connection with the ILO, but on the other hand may have been due solely to difficulty in reaching the Yugoslav representative. I was informed that difficulties of this character had been experienced in the past.

I had numerous consultations and discussions with the United States employer and the United States worker representatives at the Governing Body. This was a continuation of the policy inaugurated by the Department last year under which these representatives are informed of the position of the Government on appropriate matters. Pursuant to instructions from the Department, I met Monsieur Jouhaux9 upon his arrival in Quebec.

Summary Appraisal of the Governing Body Meeting

Although the Governing Body transacted some important business such as approving the budget, deciding on the date of the 27th Conference, approving the idea of a Regional Conference for the American States, and considering favorably the readmittance of Italy, most of the other business was of a routine character. There seemed to be a general lack of well formulated views on the constitutional problems of the ILO and on the important question of employment, which was on the agenda of the meeting. The general attitude of the representatives on the future of the ILO was a rather curious combination of concern and complacency. Generally speaking, the employers’ representatives and the Government representatives were rather concerned about the future of the Organization, whereas the workers expressed confidence in its future. The views on this subject were expressed [Page 1535] much more freely and emphatically in the private meeting of the Constitutional Committee than in the public meeting of the Governing Body. There is little question in my mind, however, but that there is a very real concern on the part of many of the individuals closely associated with the Organization as to its future relations with the United Nations Organization. The experience of the ILO representatives in San Francisco appears to have had a chastening effect. Numerous statements were made to the effect that the ILO must stick more strictly to its own affairs and do a good job in this field.

Otis E. Mulliken
  1. Sent to the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Clayton) and to the Director, Office of International Trade (Wilcox), under cover of a memorandum dated July 11, 1945.
  2. For an account of this session held at Quebec, see Department of State, Participation of the United States Government in International Conferences, July 1, 1941–June 30, 1945 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1947), pp. 206–208.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Joseph C. Grew, Under Secretary of State.
  5. The Conference was held April 1–16, 1946.
  6. Held at Philadelphia, April 20–May 12, 1944. For documentation on this Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, pp. 1007 ff.
  7. United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, April 25–June 26, 1945; for documentation, see pp. 1 ff.
  8. Leon Jouhaux, Secretary General of the Federation of Labor of France.