International Labor Organization/Bureau International du
Travail (ILO/BIT) was established in 1919 at the Paris Peace
Conference as an international organization working in
cooperation with the League of Nations.
The goal of the ILO/BIT was stated in the Covenant of
the League of Nations (Article 23a) which called for the
maintenance of “fair and humane conditions of labor for men,
women, and children.” The
membership of the ILO/BIT consisted of all of the member
states of the League of Nations, plus the United States (which
accepted membership in the organization on August 20, 1934).
In terms of administrative organization, the ILO/BIT
included a general Conference (which met a least one time
every year between 1919 and 1939) and the International Labor
Office, which served as the secretariat of the organization
under the control of the Governing Body.
Under Article XIII of the Versailles Treaty, the ILO/BIT
differed significantly from the League in terms of
representation and decision-making.
Whereas only governments held seats in the League of
Nations Assembly and Council, the Conferences and Governing
Body of the ILO/BIT included representatives of governments,
employers, and workers. Government
officials served as the spokesmen for the national delegations
(representing consumer interest and administrative
responsibility, holding 50 percent of the delegation votes),
employers held 25 percent, and labor controlled the remaining
25 percent of the votes for each national delegation.
This voting arrangement provided each group with an
important voice in deliberations and decisions.
In Conferences, each national delegation consisted of
four members (two government officials, one employer, and one
Governing Body of the International Labor Office numbered 24
members (twelve government, six employer, and six worker
representatives) until June 4, 1934; the body was then
increased to 32 members (sixteen government, eight employer,
and eight worker delegates).
The decision-making arrangements in the ILO/BIT were
unique in that voting was based on individual representatives
rather than national delegations.
Decisions in the Conferences and the Governing Body
were reached by either a simple or a two-thirds majority.
formulated labor policies at their annual Conferences.
The delegates at the Conference adopted draft
conventions, for submission for ratification to their
government, and recommendations.
The decisions of the Conferences were designed to
establish and raise international social standards.
Draft conventions entered into force, between the
member states which ratified the instruments, one year after
the deposit of the ratifications with the ILO/BIT.
Recommendations dealt with peripheral issues which
draft conventions addressed or with subjects which had not yet
been considered by the delegates in a draft convention format.
began operations in London in 1919 and moved to Geneva in July
organization maintained operations in Geneva until the
outbreak of World War II.
The administration transferred its activities to
Montreal during the war and returned to Geneva in 1946.
Upon the dissolution of the League of Nations in April
1946, the ILO/BIT signed an agreement with the United Nations,
establishing a cooperative relationship with that
section, ILO/BIT information is divided into the following
categories: International Labor Conference sessions; dates of
each session; location of the session; the Conventions and
Recommendations adopted at each session; and the date of entry
into force of ratified Conventions.
In addition, lists of ILO/BIT directors and the
presidents of the International Labor Conferences from 1919 to
1935 are included.