Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science

The Annals is a forum for the free exchange of ideas
among scholars working in the field of social sciences
Volume LVI 2-2022

The International Labour Organization facing the UN Conference on the Human Environment (1968-1978)

Federico Paolini,
pp. 53-72
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This essay deals with the debate within the International Labour Organization regarding the accession in the Conference on the Human Environment that was proposed by the U.N. General Assembly at its twenty-third session on December 3, 1968. The purpose of this work is to provide a small contribution to reflection on the complex relationships between social stakeholders involved in labour and the problems posed by environmental changes. The call for a conference on the “human environment” sparked a heated debate within the ILO as it took place at a time of profound inequalities deeply dividing the third of humanity living in the industrialized countries from the other two thirds who lived in developing and underdeveloped ones. Through the official documents produced by the ILO the debate is analyzed, which appears to be characterized by two polarizations: the first cleaved a small vanguard of countries from all the other Member States; the second fuelled divisions between employers and workers who – although concerned that awareness of environmental problems could slow down the pace of economic growth – were more in favour of a discussion on the environmental issues affecting the living and working environment.