THE I.L.O. LOOKS FORWARD
AN ADDRESS BY
C. WILFRED JENKS, ESQ.
Chairman: The President, Mr. Eason Humphreys.
Thursday, April 13, 1944
MR. HUMPHREYS: The International Labour Organization was brought into being by the Treaty of Versailles after the last war. Labour in all the victor countries had played an all-important part in the winning of the victory, and was insistent that its demand for better working conditions and more social security should be heeded.
It was, accordingly, agreed to set up along the new political world parliament (the League of Nations Assembly and Council) a new World Industrial Parliament, the International Labour Conference.
Some idea of the work accomplished by I.L.O. since 1919 is indicated by the fact that there have been some 882 ratifications of International Labour Conventions covering the whole range of industrial questions.
I may add that the organization includes a staff of some 450 persons (the International Labour Office), who constitute an international civil service especially qualified for the scientific study of labour questions on an international basis.
It is not too much to say that the work done by the office is of unique value in the present-day world.
After the last war, the International Labour Organization played an all-important part in the way of building a bridge between war and peace, and in providing the machinery for calm and objective discussion of questions which might otherwise have led to disturbed post-war conditions.
Mr. C. Wilfred Jenks, our guest, discusses the International Labour Organization in an address he calls "The I.L.O. Looks Forward".
Mr. Jenks, a member of the English Bar, a former President of the Cambridge Union Society, went from Cambridge to Geneva as Assistant Legal Adviser of the I.L.O. office and he first visited Canada in 1936. Four years ago, the I.L.O. Headquarters were transferred from Geneva to Montreal.
As legal adviser to the International Labour Office, Mr. C. Wilfred Jenks speaks with authority.
What he will have to say will lend interest to the forthcoming 26th Conference in Philadelphia, where important decisions will be taken in respect of labour and the post-war programme. Gentlemen: Mr. C. Wilfred Jenks, who will speak to us on the subject, "The I.L.O. Looks Forward."
MR. JENKS: We have received of late from our leading statesmen innumerable warnings that this war has not yet been won; that Germany still remains astride the Continent of Europe and that Japan still holds sway over the rich prizes of the Indies and of the China coasts; that blood, sweat and tears must continue to be our lot through further months of struggle which may still lengthen into years; and that many disappointments will beset us before we finally succeed in re-establishing the decencies of civilized living throughout the world.
In these circumstances, some may think it premature for the International Labour Organization to have convened to meet next week in Philadelphia a world conference representative of governments, employers and workers, whose function it will be to begin to lay the social foundations for the coming peace. That is not the view of the governments of the principal United Nations at whose instance the Conference has been called. Nor is it a view which can withstand serious analysis. Statesmanship is essentially the art of making adequate provision for the day after tomorrow. We have now reached a stage of the war at which, although victory has not yet been won, we can no longer afford to delay the preparation of detailed plans for the action which must be taken immediately victory has been won.
The challenge which will then confront us will be as matchless as that of global and total war and will require an effort no less tense and arduous.
Glance round the world at the responsibilities and dilemmas which lie before us. Europe has been plunged into a barbarism which she has not known since the days of Attila the Hun. Her political institutions lie in ruins; the foundations of her economic prosperity have been destroyed; weakened by hunger and despair, threatened by disease, depopulated by Nazi policy, Europe is being bombed to bits. The rehabilitation and reconstruction of Europe is essential to the future prosperity and progress of the whole world and presents a challenge unprecedented in Europe's age-long and momentous history.
Equally without precedent is the challenge presented by the current problems and aspirations of Asia. The peoples of Asia, a thousand million strong, have been stirred to the depths of their being; their national consciousness has been aroused as never in the past; their industrialization is proceeding apace. They also have suffered much and will suffer more before victory is won. The future course of their development may well determine whether peace and prosperity for the whole world on the basis of rising standards everywhere or a future war of continents and races embittered by fantastic contrasts in living standards is to be the lot of the next generation.
In Latin America, in Africa and in the islands of the Pacific similar forces are at work. And here on the North American continent the termination of hostilities will precipitate problems of economic readjustment of the greatest magnitude and difficulty. Clearly we are approaching one of the grand climacterics of history.
The Conference which is to convene in Philadelphia next week to consider these grave issues in a world perspective is the Twenty-sixth Session of the International Labour Conference. The International Labour Conference is a world parliament for social questions, consisting of national delegations from each of the members of the International Labour Organization, commonly called the I.L.O. The I.L.O. is an association of nations, financed by governments and democratically controlled by representatives of governments, of management and of labour through a governing body, on which the Canadian Government is represented as of right as the government of one of the eight states of the world which are of the chief industrial importance, and on which representatives of Canadian management and labour sit by virtue of election by their colleagues in the International Labour Conference. The national delegations to the International Labour Conference, which normally meets every year, comprise four delegates, two representing the government, one representing management and one representing labour, ad each of these delegates may be accompanied by advisers. The decisions of the International Labour Conference are not binding upon the members of the organization, but governments are under an obligation under the constitution of the organization to submit these decisions for consideration to their national legislatures. During the last quarter of a century the Conference has adopted 67 conventions or labour treaties, and 66 recommendations, which constitute an international labour code which has been for two decades one of the main formative influences upon the development of social legislation in many countries. During the war the Conference has not been able to hold regular sessions, but a large part of the work of the I.L.O. has been continued by the International Labour Office from its emergency headquarters in Montreal. Now the stage has been reached at which the world parliament of social policy can again be called into session to make plans for the future.
One of the primary duties of the Conference will be to consider how the I.L.O. can be most effectively equipped to discharge its future responsibilities. Even a highly successful international organization naturally requires a thorough overhaul when, after out-riding the storms of recent years, it confronts the tasks and perils of the unknown future.
I will not weary you with an account of the detailed proposals for enhancing the effectiveness of the International Labour Organization which will come before the Conference, though some of them open up possibilities to fire the dullest imagination.
The general role which the I.L.O. is expected to play in the years ahead is sketched out in a proposed general declaration of its aims and purposes two features of which I should like to single out for special comment.
The proposed declaration envisages that the I.L.O. should act as the social conscience, of the complex of world institution which the United Nations are endeavouring to create. Out of the maelstrom of discussion and debate on war and peace aims which has been so marked a feature of this war there has emerged a substantial measure of common agreement regarding objectives among statesmen of opposing parties and conflicting views in a wide range of countries. Full employment at fair pay, better nutrition, better housing, better medical services, fuller equality of educational opportunity, adequate family allowances, more ample provision for old age, disability, and widows and orphans, proper recreational facilities for all classes in the community and especially for the young, higher standards of health, safety, welfare and leisure in industry, more assured prosperity and a higher level of amenities in agriculture--these are the things that a growing body of opinion in every country, and in every political party, regards as an essential part of the civilized standard of life which every citizen is entitled to expect the community to make it reasonably possible for him to attain. These are the social claims which the common man, whose conception of the possible has been vastly enlarged by two world wars, now expects the economic system to satisfy. The problem of post-war economic reconstruction is that of determining how these social claims are to be met.
In view of this situation the proposed declaration affirms that it is a responsibility of the I.L.O. to act as the social conscience of the world by scrutinizing all international economic and financial measures in the light of these fundamental social objectives. Policies as far-reaching as will be required to deal with problems of readjustment on the scale of those arising from the war cannot be effectively implemented by governmental action over substantial periods unless there is a widespread conviction on the part of workers and employers that the policies being pursued are wise and just. This conviction will exist only if high economic policy and strategy is formulated with due regard to the views of responsible representatives of workers and employers and is regularly interpreted to, and exposed to criticism by, such responsible representatives as the process of formulating its proceeds. It will quickly be dissipated unless the social objectives which have been formulated in general terms are given a precision which inspires confidence in both the sincerity with which they have been advocated and the practicability of the methods whereby it is proposed to attain them. The world is weary of vague pledges of new orders. Rightly and properly the public demand today is for concrete plans for human betterment. By scrutinizing economic and financial policies as they develop the I.L.O. can add its weight to the endeavour to ensure that the policies adopted by Governments deserve the public support without which they cannot be made effective over long periods, and that policies deserving such support do not fail to receive it through any inadequate explanation of their origins and purpose to organized labour and organized management.
The proposed declaration puts in the forefront of the immediate objectives of social and economic policy the maintenance of full employment. During two world wars the highly industrialized States have achieved full employment as a means of maximizing their armed strength.
These supreme efforts called forth by crises of national survival have not been matched by any continuity of policy designed to remove the occasion for such efforts. Throughout the inter-war period unemployment was the major social curse of the highly industrialized States. In January 1933, the date of the assumption of power by the Nazi regime in Germany, the volume of unemployment in that country exceeded six million persons. In that figure is to be found part of the explanation for the history of the succeeding years. The employment problem which will arise on the morrow of the war will be on a scale far exceeding any with which we were familiar during the inter-war period, and for some years after the end of the war the reabsorption into civilian pursuits of the vast majority of the millions of men and women serving in the armed forces or engaged in war production will constitute the major task of economic statesmanship. Society will insist on the provision for these men and women of work of social value which will enable them to earn a living for themselves and their dependants and to make a useful contribution to the life of the community. The days in which the State could consider that its duties were discharged if it provided some minimum income for the unemployed through insurance or otherwise have gone forever. The right to subsist, the right not to die of starvation, can no longer be regarded as exhausting the claims of the individual upon the modern state. Men and women will no longer tolerate a organization of society under which those who are willing and anxious to work are obliged to forfeit their self-respect by remaining idle through the critical years during which we must rebuild our shattered civilization. No political or economic system which fails to solve the problem of full employment will be acceptable to a world which has learned the potentialities of governmental action during two world wars. The hardy virtues of work, thrift and self-reliance have lost nothing of their old importance, but in the complex industrialized societies of modern time's they are utterly inadequate to ensure reasonable opportunities for the individual or the maintenance of decent standards of well-being throughout society. The expression "the right to work" is no doubt an over-simplification of the problems involved, but it states in simple and forceful terms the most elementary of the social claims which modern society is called upon to meet.
The economic measures, international and national, which will be necessary to achieve full employment are set out in another set of proposals which represent the first over-all picture laid before any official international conference of plans for that fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field which was pledged by the Atlantic Charter as a means of securing for all improved labour standards, economic advancement and social security. None of these proposals are new. All of them relate to matters which governments already have under consideration and some of them to matters in respect of which considerable progress has already been made. But they are now to receive consideration as a coherent whole with the full participation of representatives of management and labour whose support will be essential to make them practically effective.
The successful handling of the long-range problems of international economic reconstruction will depend in large measure on the success achieved in affording prompt relief to war-stricken peoples, repatriating prisoners and exiles, and organizing the resumption of agriculture and industrial production in the devastated and looted liberated countries. This most urgent and critical task has been entrusted to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, with which the I.L.O. has already established close relations of mutual co-operation, and the International Labour Conference will therefore be invited to endorse the action taken and to throw its weight behind the relief and rehabilitation programme.
Equally vital to the success of any long-term programme will be the maintenance while post-war shortages of essential commodities and transport facilities continue of international arrangements to ensure a fair allocation of available supplies and to prevent excessive price movements. The Conference will therefore have before it a recommendation that the governments of the United Nations concerned should arrange to continue in operation the existing machinery of international control as long as serious shortages persist and should enlarge the membership of bodies such as the Combined Boards in order to make them more representative in character.
Taking as a foundation the need for relief and rehabilitation measures and the importance of retaining controls while essential goods and transport remain in short supply, the proposals being laid before the Conference proceed to outline a long-term programme of international economic reconstruction which I propose to summarize briefly in the form of eight points:
(1) The proposals welcome the action being taken to establish a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to promote international co-operation to raise levels of nutrition and to improve the efficiency of agricultural production and distribution.
(2) The proposals underline the need for effective international machinery for maintaining stability in rates of exchange, and urge that the governments of the United Nations should require the authorities responsible for operating such machinery to have regard in framing and applying their policies to the effect of their decisions on employment and living standards.
(3) The proposals envisage an international development bank to promote the movement of capital needed for reconstruction, development and the raising of living standards in many countries, and urge that the promotion of full employment and higher living standards should be regarded as a primary objective of such a bank and that the terms of all contracts for development works financed by the bank should include provisions regarding the welfare and working conditions of the labour employed.
(4) The proposals contemplate the establishment by the United Nations of machinery to facilitate the coordination of the commercial policies of all countries for the purpose of promoting a steady expansion in world trade on a multilateral basis.
(5) The proposals call for concerted action by the United Nations to ensure more stable and adequate incomes to primary producers and to afford protection against violent swings in supply or demand such as so often demoralized the commodity markets during the inter-war period. They underline that international arrangements for this purpose should provide for adequate representation of consumers and for the assurance to the labour employed of fair remuneration, satisfactory working conditions, and adequate social security protection.
(7) The proposals recommend that the United Nations should institute international arrangements for the development, conservation and equitable distribution of the world's oil resources in the interest of all peoples. (7) The proposals suggest that the United Nations should initiate measures to facilitate, by the provision of necessary technical and financial assistance, regulated migration of labour and settlers under adequate guarantees for all concerned.
(8) The proposals note the marked differences of opinion which exist with regard to the advantages and disadvantages of international cartels concerning such matters as patent rights, the control of production and the allocation of markets, but they urge that the full searchlight of publicity shall be directed on the existence and operation of such cartels and that the United Nations should, as a first step in this direction, initiate arrangements for the registration of all cartel agreements.
This programme of international economic measures is accompanied by a programme of national economic measures. It is primarily through national policies that international economic measures are made effective, and unless national policies are systematically directed towards the attainment of the social objectives which the United Nations have set before them no international action will suffice to translate these objectives into concrete achievement expressed in the well-being of individual human lives.
The programme of national economic measures placed before the Conference strikes the keynote which should set the tone of all our economic thinking: that national economic policies should be directed consistently towards the attainment of full employment, social security and rising standards of living. It thus stems from the fundamental philosophy that the solution for the maladjustments which produced the recurrent unemployment of the inter-war period lies in the expansion of consumption and not in the restriction of production. The programme emphasizes the importance for this purpose of making plans immediately for the rapid and orderly conversion of the various national economies from wartime to peacetime requirements, including plans for the payment to contractors as soon as possible of the sums due to them to re-equip their plants for peacetime production. In view of the danger that shortages of supply coupled with the volume of pent-up demand may lead to a post-war price inflation followed by collapse and widespread unemployment, the programme recommends that Governments shall, so long as shortages exist, maintain such price and exchange controls, rationing, and other financial and economic controls, as may be necessary to prevent inflation, and that they should avoid such precipitate reductions in taxation as might lead to inflation. As long-range policies the programme recommends measures to encourage enterprise and technological progress and to facilitate the development of industries in which there is an expanding demand; measures to encourage the transfer of productive resources from declining to expanding industries by affording credit and technical advice to employers and facilities for training and retraining to workers; measures to maintain the volume of demand for consumers' goods by such methods as an adequate income security system; and measures to ensure the productive investment of all savings by arrangements for the organization and financing of public investments in such a way as to maintain stability in total investment at a level adequate to ensure full employment.
Plans for long-term economic reconstruction, vital as they are, will however be valueless unless certain political conditions are fulfilled. Economic prosperity and social justice cannot be assured in a world where political strains involve a standing menace of war. The Constitution of the International Labour Organization rightly affirms that lasting peace "can be established only if it is based upon social justice". It is equally true that without political security, based on the harnessing of power as the servant of welfare it will be impossible to pursue effectively long-range policies directed towards the maintenance of full employment and a rising standard of living.
The task of creating political security, and of building up an effective world organization against aggression, will be made infinitely more difficult if we do not succeed in creating for the first time a firm foundation for the development of democratic traditions in Germany and Italy and Japan. In the development of such traditions democratic trade unionism can play an important part, and the Philadelphia Conference will accordingly be called upon to consider how sound trade unionism can be rebuilt as Axis territories are occupied and the principles on which social policy and administration in occupied Axis territories should be based.
The recommendations on this subject which will be laid before the Conference constitute an essential part of a broad programme for the suppression of Nazi-Fascism in all its forms. In the Moscow Declaration regarding Italy the Foreign Secretaries of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union proclaimed "that allied policy towards Italy must be based upon the fundamental principle that fascism and all its evil influence and emanations shall be utterly destroyed". The forthcoming International Labour Conference will have before it detailed proposals forgiving effect to this principle in the field of labour policy. These proposals envisage that the German Labour Front and any other occupational associations constituted on a totalitarian basis will be immediately liquidated; that persons conspicuously and actively identified with the totalitarian regime will be eliminated from all administrative posts; that all discrimination in the field of social and economic legislation and administration on grounds of race or, religion will be immediately abolished; and that any legislation or regulations incompatible with freedom of association and its effective exercise will immediately be declared invalid. On these lines alone can the necessary foundations be laid for winning back the peoples of the Axis countries to a civilized way of life. Though the objective must be the establishment of democratic control of social policy in the countries concerned, there will necessarily be a period which may be long or short according to the country and the circumstances, during which the occupying authorities will have to be prepared to assume the major share of the administrative responsibility for social policy and to play a leading role in fostering the growth of democratic forces. The proposals therefore provide for the appointment in each occupied Axis territory of a United Nations Labour Commissioner who, with the assistance of a qualified staff, should be responsible for the administration of social and labour laws and regulations. They also contemplate the appointment in each territory of an Advisory Board including representatives of the workers of the territory and outsiders with experience of trade union organization. One of the principal responsibilities to be placed upon the United Nations Labour Commissioner is that of giving every reasonable facility and encouragement to the reconstitution of free organizations for the promotion of the occupational and economic interests of the workers. The Advisory Board, which will be his natural link with the workers of the territory, should be a particularly valuable instrument for this purpose. The United Nations Labour Commissioner would also be responsible for ensuring the continued operation of administrative services such as employment services and social insurance institutions; for eradicating totalitarian influences from institutions for the civic and vocational training of young workers and for the organization of their recreation and spare time pursuits; for promoting the restoration of collective bargaining, in place of totalitarian dictatorship, as the normal basis for the determination of conditions of employment; for making adequate arrangements for the settlement of industrial disputes; and for securing the fullest possible co-operation between the workers' organizations and the authorities responsible for rehousing, urban reconstruction, and the restoration of essential public services. One important responsibility of the United Nations Labour Commissioner would be to co-operate with the authorities responsible for the employment and repatriation of displaced foreign workers, the demobilization of the forces of the Axis country concerned, and the conversion of industry from war to peace production, with a view to timing and co-ordinating these operations in such a manner as to avoid or reduce to a minimum large-scale unemployment. At this point some may be inclined to ask why we should be concerned with the avoidance of large-scale unemployment in defeated Axis countries at a time when we ourselves, and our gallant allies of liberated Europe, will be confronted with problems of employment readjustment on an unprecedented scale. The answer is a simple one: because our own self-interest, our own freedom, security and welfare, demand that we should. Peace and good government in the world at large cannot be achieved if a power so heavily industrialized that it has been able to hold the world at bay becomes a plague spot of unemployment from which further economic and social disorders will inevitably spread to the whole body politic of Europe. The United Nations must retain a monopoly of power; they must make it impossible for the world's peace to be challenged anew from any quarter, but in order to achieve their objectives and to avoid the recurrence of the age-long cycle of victory followed by revenge they must also, with the confident wisdom of assured strength, plan boldly for human welfare among the vanquished as well as among the victors.
There is, however, one special group of workers in Axis territories who have a more immediate claim upon the energies of the United Nations than any others--the workers from other lands who have been taken there by force and fraud, under the pressure of starvation and of reprisals against their loved ones. The I.L.O. has estimated that there are today in Europe over thirty million people who have been transplanted or torn from their homes, including at least six and a half million foreign workers employed in German's war industries. Immediate measures for the protection of these displaced foreign workers will be imperative. The responsibility for the repatriation of such workers will rest with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation, but it will also be necessary to make provision for their continued employment, maintenance and accommodation pending repatriation. The International Labour Conference will therefore have before it a proposal that the United Nations Labour Commissioner should take all possible steps to prevent the involuntary unemployment of foreign workers pending repatriation, that the dismissal of such workers should require the approval of his representative, and that where they can no longer be employed they should continue to receive their full wages in cash or in kind at the cost of the German State.
In addition to this emergency agenda consisting of proposals for the reorganization of the I.L.O., of a general programme of international economic co-operation, and of plans for social policy in occupied Axis territories, the forthcoming Philadelphia Conference will also have before it important proposals concerning the urgent questions of social policy which the democratic powers will face at home and in their colonial dependencies during the period immediately following the close of hostilities.
Foremost among these problems will be that of providing employment for the millions who will be demobilized from the services and from war industry. The Conference will therefore have before it, in addition to proposals concerning the general economic problems involved in the maintenance of full employment, proposals concerning the technical arrangements necessary for the transfer of man-power from war to peace production. These proposals provide, inter alia, for orderly demobilization programmes, for national reconversion programmes designed to facilitate the rapid and orderly conversion of the economy to peacetime needs with a minimum of transitional unemployment, and for special measures for the training and employment of handicapped workers.
Second only to employment among the social claims which have been thrust to the forefront by the war is social security, the provision of income security and of medical care in all the varied contingencies for which, in an industrialized society, the individual cannot make adequate provision by personal effort. In the more advanced democratic states much has already been done to promote social security by the gradual development of social insurance schemes. The International Labour Organization has played a considerable part in stimulating the development of such schemes during the last quarter of a century. The income security proposals now laid before the Conference are designed to promote further progress by the unification of social insurance schemes, the extension of such schemes to all workers and their families, including rural populations and the self-employed, and the elimination of inequitable anomalies.
The income security provisions for public subsidies for the healthy nurture of children, taking the form of such advantages as free or below-cost infants' food and school meals and below-cost dwellings for families with several children, or that of children's allowances representing a substantial contribution to the cost of maintaining a child.
The medical care proposals provide for the development in each country, as rapidly as national conditions allow, of either a public medical care service or a social insurance medical care service affording complete preventive and curative medical care to all members of the community. The proposals detailed suggestions for the rational organization of medical care services through group practice at health centres and do not overlook the special measures necessary for rural areas with sparsely settled populations. They embody appropriate safeguards for the right of the patient to choose his doctor, for the protection of the working conditions and status of doctors and members of allied professions, and for the maintenance of the highest possible standard of professional skill and knowledge. They include proposals concerning the financing of medical care which are based upon the general principle that the cost of the medical care service should be distributed among the members of the community in proportion to their ability to pay. The provide for the administration of the service on a basis designed to secure the fullest collaboration of the medical and allied professions on all professional matters and the fullest consultation of the beneficiaries of the service on matters of policy and administration. The proposals are designed to afford an international yardstick by which the adequacy of the medical care services of individual countries can be judged, and accordingly do not attempt to deal with all of the practical details of administration which their implementation under any particular set of national conditions will present.
The social security proposals to be considered by the Conference also deal specifically with the arrangements necessary to guarantee income security and medical care to persons from the armed forces and assimilated services from war employment. Persons discharged from the armed forces and from assimilated services will be faced with initial expenditure in re-establishing themselves in civil life; they may in certain cases remain unemployed for a time before obtaining suitable employment and should in that event enjoy the protection of unemployment insurance as though they had been insured contributors during the period of their war service; it would clearly be unfair that they should find themselves at a disadvantage in respect of pension insurance as compared with persons who have remained in civil employment, and it is also clearly desirable that they should be entitled to immediate protection under sickness insurance schemes. Proposals in regard to all these matters will come before the Conference. They represent an attempt to translate into concrete policies the general pledge of social security contained in the Atlantic Charter.
The third question on the technical agenda of the Conference, social policy in dependent territories, is a subject of less direct interest to Canada, but of no less importance for the world as a whole, especially at a time when the impact of the war has produced a revolution in social life and in economic possibilities and probabilities throughout the colonial world. The proposals on this question which will come before the Conference embody general principles of far-reaching importance and detailed minimum standards of labour protection. Among the general principles formulated in the proposals are the principle that all policies affecting dependent territories shall be primarily directed to the well-being and development of the peoples of such territories; the principle of financial and technical assistance for the economic development of dependent territories in the interest of their peoples; the principle that appropriate action shall be taken to establish conditions of trade sufficient for the maintenance of reasonable standards of living for producers efficiently producing the essential export products of the dependent territories; the principle that all necessary steps shall be taken by positive governmental action to promote improvement in such fields as public health, housing, nutrition, education, the welfare of children, the status of women, conditions of employment, the remuneration of wage-earners and independent producers, social security, standards of public services and general production; and the principle that all possible steps shall be taken to associate the peoples of the dependent territories in the framing and execution of measures of social progress through their own appropriate institutions. These principles express the new conception of colonial trusteeship which has been hammered into being on the anvils of depression and war, the conception of a positive and dynamic partnership in the pursuit of welfare, the conception that our responsibility to backward peoples is not discharged by furnishing a framework of law and order for their future development, but includes a responsibility for assisting them to build the economic foundations for social progress and political evolution.
Mr. Chairman, speaking as I do today on the eve of a major International Conference, I have necessarily laid before you not a record of accomplishment, but a programme, not an account of what the International Labour Organization has achieved during the last quarter of a century but an indication of the issues on which its forthcoming Conference will focus the attention of the governments, employees and workers of the free world. The tasks of reconstruction which now lie before the democratic peoples are of a magnitude which might well lead the stoutest hearts to hesitate and quail. The assets of which we dispose for the tasks of reconstruction are, however, as unparalleled as the destruction which we have to repair. On the material side alone the stimulus to development given by the war can be made to compensate for all that has been destroyed. The expansion of the metal, the engineering and above all the machine tool industries during the war will, if wise policies are pursued, prove an asset and not a liability. These industries form the foundation of the whole industrial system and the strengthening of that foundation should greatly facilitate the development of higher standards of life throughout the world. The acquisition of new skills by labour should also facilitate the growth of new industries and the development of old; the number of persons in all parts of the world who have acquired a mechanical sense will have been enormously increased and a much larger proportion of the total labour force will have mastered more than one skill. The war will have enormously accelerated inventive processes; many new materials will have reached the stage of large-scale manufacture; the machinery in certain industries will have been modernized and greatly improved; the organization of many concerns and of whole industries will have been remodelled and costs reduced. In terms of technical and social evolution the war has telescoped years into months and generations into years. Aviation, radiolocation and television; light metals and plastics; prefabrication and dehydration; these are but the precursors of a new age which will add to the world's wealth and welfare as coal and steel and the steam engine and electricity and internal combustion added to it in the past. Nor is the scale of the destruction which has been caused, the complete disruption of the world economic system wrecked by the two wars and the depression, and the progressive extension of the danger zones to hitherto sheltered parts of the earth, without substantial compensating advantages. Today we must rebuild because we can do no other. We cannot be led astray by any mirage of good old days because most of us cannot remember any period within our lifetime to which we would willingly see the world return. Our unprecedented material resources may therefore prove to be the least of our assets of reconstruction value. The victory of freedom can be made the occasion for releasing moral energies capable of triumphing over privation and fatigue, over bewilderment and despair. If unity of purpose can be achieved and maintained, if self-discipline and vision continue to govern policy when victory is won, the civilization of the ages may yet go forward to build on the basis of the four freedoms a century of unparalleled progress throughout the world.