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ILO

 

The ILO – International Labour Organization – is an almost centenary multilateral body that has survived the multiple vicissitudes of the twentieth century after its creation as part of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, following World War I. Its premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if based on social justice, and its tripartite structure – giving an equal voice to workers, employers and governments – are major features leading to its special authority and recognized prestige. The first specialized agency of the United Nations since 1946, the ILO has made an invaluable contribution to international justice and the dignity of human labour. When it celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1969, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its influence on international regulations and pacification of conflicts in our societies. The ILO continues to stand out for its commitment towards reducing poverty, fair globalization and improved opportunities, so that men and women can have access to decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, safety, and human dignity.

By determining to award the first OBSERVARE Prize, the group of researchers of Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa unanimously decided to give it to the ILO at the Second International Conference. The purpose of the prize is to pay tribute to individuals or organizations that have stood out due to intellectual creativity or relevant practice in their contribution to the understanding of international realities, solidarity among peoples and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. As observers and scholars of International Relations, we are sensitive to the importance of the ILO in this field, in that it represents the best of multilateralism and operates in the transnational flow of decent and productive work. By honouring the ILO also confirm that we do not confine ourselves to a vision of international life perceived as a clash of interests between powers, and that we see it as cooperative processes that extend beyond borders.

The growing importance of the Portuguese language at the ILO, largely as a result of the close collaboration between the ILO offices in Lisbon and Brasília, as well as the strengthening of the cooperation with the Portuguese speaking world and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) must also be emphasized. This is attested by the preparation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the ILO and the CPLP, and the protocol between the two organizations, which is expected to be signed this year in Geneva, intended to strengthen cooperation in areas of common interest.

As Portuguese, we are aware that as recently as November 2013, the ILO made public an important study entitled “Tackling the Jobs Crisis in Portugal: which path towards the future”? Such attention to the harsh situation in our country and the positive constructive proposals it advances are additional reasons to pay tribute to the ILO as Portuguese citizens and as social scientists.

In the context of the 2nd OBSERVARE International Conference, where we examine the topic “World War II and International Relations (100 years after 1914)”, it is extremely opportune to award this prize to the ILO, symbol of a more humane world and the promise of fairer international relations.

Lisbon, 2 July 2014

 

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