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The Membership of the United States in the International Labor Organization

  • Manley O. Hudson (a1)

Extract

Though representatives of the United States participated very actively in the drafting of the Constitution of the International Labor Organization in 1919, and though the first International Labor Conference was held in Washington under the presidency of the Secretary of Labor, the Government of the United States had no part in the work of the International Labor Organization during its first fifteen years. In consequence, the United States has hitherto held aloof from one of the most significant of the modern developments of international law. Fortunately, this situation has now been changed. On August 20,1934, the United States became the fifty-ninth member of the International Labor Organization. The steps by which this result has been achieved, and the problems growing out of it, present some interesting legal questions which ought not to escape attention.

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1 78 Congressional Record, p. 12359. This resolution was adopted unanimously by the Senate, on June 13, 1934. Id., p. 11681. It was adopted by the House of Representatives on June 16, 1934, by 232 votes to 109, i.e., by more than two-thirds of the votes. Id., p. 12362.

2 Provisional Record of the International Labor Conference, 18th Session, p. 464.

3 International Labor Office Document, C. P. 38, 1934.

4 For the text, see 1 Hudson, International Legislation, p. 228.

5 Records of the International Labor Conference, First Session, p. 211. For a contrary opinion given in 1920 by M. Paul Mantoux, then Director of the Political Section of the Secretariat of the League of Nations, see Records of the First Assembly, Committees, II, p. 240.

6 Records of the First Assembly, Plenary, pp. 635, 636, 638.

7 Brazil ceased to be a member of the League of Nations on June 13, 1928. Since that time, Brazilian representatives have taken part in the International Labor Conferences, and Brazil has been represented on the Governing Body of the International Labor Office.

8 (1930) Series B, No. 18, p. 10.

9 Series B, No. 18, p. 18.

10 Kecords of the First Assembly, Plenary, pp. 635, 636, 638.

11 Indications as to such organizations are contained in Department of State Publication, Conference Series No. 17 (1933). The following recent instances may be noted: International Hydrographic Bureau (Act of March 2,1921); International Statistical Institute (Act of April 28, 1924); Permanent International Association of Road Congresses (Joint Resolution of June 18, 1926); American International Institute for the Protection of Childhood (Joint Resolution of May 3, 1928). Membership in the Pan American Union, also, does not now depend upon any convention. The United States’ support of the International Association for Labor Legislation, mentioned in the preamble to the Joint Resolution of June 19, 1934, was authorized by appropriations by Congress.

12 The foregoing statement is not to be modified because of the amendment to Art. 393 which came into force on June 4, 1934, for the adoption of such amendments by less than unanimous action was envisaged in Art. 422. For the text of the amendment, see 1 Hudson, International Legislation, pp. 248, 250.

13 This question was discussed at length in the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1922, when El Salvador contended that as a member of the League of Nations it was not bound to contribute to the expenses of the International Labor Organization. A subcommittee of the First Committee of the Assembly made an elaborate report on the subject, in which it spoke of “the indivisible capacity of members of the League of Nations and members of the Labour Organization,” and it reached the conclusion that all members of the League were bound to contribute to the expenses of the Labor Organization. Records of the Third Assembly, Plenary, II, pp. 191-194.

14 See the Minutes of the Commission on International Labor Legislation at the Paris Peace Conference, in the official Bulletin of the International Labor Office, I, pp. 58, 75, 81, 86 ff., 177,179, 263. The American Delegation seems to have been of the opinion that “limitations” meant judicial as well as constitutional limitations. Id., p. 179. The two volumes on The Origins of the International Labor Organization, edited by James T. Shotwell, recently published by the Columbia University Press, contain a mine of information on the drafting of the constitution of the Organization and on the work of the Commission at the Peace Conference. See especially a study of the latter by Edward J. Phelan, in Vol. I, pp. 127-198.

15 Missouri v. Holland (1920), 252 TJ. S. 416; this Journal, Vol. 14 (1920), p. 459.

16 See this Journal, post, p. 736.

17 U. S. Treaty Series, No. 863; 139 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 301.

18 A list of the 44 draft conventions adopted by the International Labor Conference is appended to this study. See p. 683, infra.

19 See Francis G. Wilson, , “International Labor Relations of Federal Governments,10 Southwestern Political and Social Science Quarterly (1929), p.190.

20 Few questions on this point seem to have arisen with other governments.

21 The amendment came into force on June 4, 1934.

22 On the filling of vacancies, see the Standing Orders of the International Labor Conference (Art. 20). 1 Hudson, International Legislation, p. 270.

23 The existing situation may also be complicated by the entrance of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics into membership in the Organization, as a consequence of its admission into the League of Nations on Sept. 18, 1934.

24 The estimated contribution of the International Labor Office to the Staff Pensions Fund, for 1934, is 760,083 Swiss francs.

25 The League of Nations Financial Regulations, which are in no way binding on the United States, provide (Art. 22) that “States not members of the League which have been admitted members of any organization of the League shall, in the absence of a contrary provision, contribute towards the expenses of the organization concerned as nearly as possible in the proportion in which they would contribute to such expenses if they were members of the League.” League of Nations Document, C.3(1).M.3(1).1931.X; 1 Hudson, International Legislation, p. 162.

26 See the excellent statement in the House of Representatives by Hon. Sam D. McReynolds, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on June 18, 1934. 78 Congressional Record, p. 12681. 27 As of September 1, 1934. 28 Germany's notice of intention to withdraw from the League of Nations, of Oct. 19, 1933, also applies to the International Labor Organization.

27 As of September 1, 1934.

28 Germany’s notice of intention to withdraw from the League of Nations, of Oct. 19, 1933, also applies to the International Labor Organization.

The Membership of the United States in the International Labor Organization

  • Manley O. Hudson (a1)

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