Secretary-General’s remarks to General Assembly on the 100th Anniversary of the International Labour Organization [as delivered]

10 April 2019

A century ago – as the rubble from the First World War still smouldered – global leaders came together in Versailles and affirmed a principle that echoes to this day. 
Indeed, in the first words of the constitution of the International Labour Organization, it is written “Universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice.”
It was a time of upheaval. 
Working people were demanding fair treatment and dignity in work, adequate wages, an eight-hour working day and freedom of association. 
The nations of the world knew they must cooperate to make it happen. 
And so the International Labour Organization was born.
Despite being among the oldest members of the UN family, the ILO remains to this day one of the most unique gathering spaces in the international system.
Its tripartite governance model is a source of strength and legitimacy. 
Workers, employers, and governments come together through dialogue for shared solutions.
Ms. Frances Perkins – President Franklin Roosevelt’s Labour Secretary –recounted how FDR himself was captivated by this idea in the 1930s, long before the birth of the UN.
She said:  “More than once in discussing the world organization, Roosevelt pointed out…”

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