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September 1994, Vol. 117, No. 9
Achievements, new directions from 1994 ILO conference
By many yardsticks, the 1994 International Labor Conference, convened in Geneva in the 75th anniversary year of the International labor organization (ILO), was a watershed. As the "world labor parliament" met in June, the community of nations faced what many within the organization consider the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930's. Shortly before assembly opened, the ILO reported that nearly one-third of the global work force - 820 million people - were either unemployed or underemployed. With that somber jobs picture and the impact of swift economic globalization as a backdrop, a record 2,000 delegates - representing workers, employers, and governments from 158 of the ILO's 171 member nations - weighed and acted on a variety of issues influenced by seismic economic, social, and political change rocking the world.
A call for new directions
In his report to the conference, ILO Director-General Michael Hansenne of Belgium said that "the time has come to make a new overall assessment of the ILO's aims and manes of action. The urgency of doing so has been imposed by the tremendous geographical upheavals that have occurred so fast in recent years." In addition, he pointed out, "we are now witnessing a drastic acceleration in the globalization of the economy. This process, which is the source of hope for some and of distress for others, a positive development for some and a dangerous drift for others, is calling a number of concepts and fixed ideas into question."
According to Hansenne, "The social dimensions of globalization need to be given greater weight by the international community, and to be fully taken into account in the establishment of rules, mechanisms and policies for management of the global economy." To mark the ILO's 75th anniversary, the director-general noted, the Organization's Governing Body had "decided to turn deliberately to the future and to ponder the responsibilities to be assumed tomorrow."
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ILO labor statistics convention: U.S. accepts new obligations. June 1991.
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