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How Did International Organizations Take Up the Challenges that Laborers Faced Due to the Cold War?

International organizations are the entities that try to help states to cooperate, enhance the rights, and eliminate inequality that many societies face. They facilitate cooperation and coordination among member nations. In addition, they encourage global initiatives aiming to promote equity between nations (Wikipedia, 2021). Besides these, some of the international organizations try to stabilize the political situations between states and make sure of cooperation and development. To put it in a nutshell, they intend to make the world a better place. They operate internationally, they are non-state actors that are established by states though. For instance, the International Labor Organization is the first sub-body of the United Nations (Erdoğdu, 2021). It aims to secure the rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection, and strengthen work-related issues (DCED, 2021). In other words, ILO norms encompass forced and compulsory labor, protect trade union rights as well as prevention of discrimination (Erdoğdu, 2013). Moreover, it gave a helping hand to ameliorate conditions caused by the Cold War. In this essay, they will be explained that how international labor organizations reacted to those challenges arised from the Cold War and the reaction of ILO to decent working conditions by being in cooperation with WTO.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the world entered into a new economic globalization era which is called Hyperglobalization (Reynaud, 2018). However, there was a cluster of challenges that ILO had to deal with by the end of the Cold War. One of the difficulties that ILO had in the early years was the Bolshevik Revolution. When the revolution succeeded, which meant the rise of communism, ILO had to fight against the possible threats of social unrest and revolutionary movements (Reynaud, 2018). Therefore, in order to struggle with the Soviet Union’s ideologies, ILO targeted an open global economy and free trade among the states (Erdoğdu, 2013). It demanded to combine the open global economy and free trade because it wanted to ensure that commercial competitions occurred in an equal level. However, when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the threat of communism came to an end (Reynaud, 2018). Thus, ILO's first goal was to clash against communism as it was still maintained by its tripartite membership (Erdoğdu, 2013).

On the other hand, in the Hyperglobalization era, ILO aimed at completing the liberalization of capital flows and establishing the World Trade Organization (Reynaud, 2018). ILO adopted the declaration of fundamental principles and rights at work constituted in 1998 (Reynaud, 2018). It considered labor rights as human rights by adopting the declaration. In other words, after the Cold War, human rights were more prioritized along with democracy. Hence, ILO proposed to link its standard setting approach with human rights which could protect the labor rights more (Reynaud, 2018). In addition to this, by adopting the declaration, it was demanded to entitle a series of rights which is called a social cause for laborers which included freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced labor and discrimination, and the abolition of child labor (Reynaud, 2018). Thus, the declaration developed the status of ILO in the international arena and it defended workers’ rights (Erdoğdu, 2013).

On top of that, in the World Trade Organization conference in 1996, it came up with a renovation that ensured the labor rights more (Reynaud,2018). In the conference, WTO expressed that it supported ILO’s works and also stated that economic growth would be brought by trade liberalization and promotion of those standards (Reynaud, 2018). In addition to this, WTO claimed that it rejected to adopt the labor standards for protectionist purposes and solve low-wage problem in developing countries (Reynaud, 2018). Furthermore, if a member state violated the social cause mentioned above, WTO could investigate it through the usual WTO dispute settlement (Erdoğdu, 2013). On the other hand, a decent work situation also was brought to the UN’s agenda as well as the international arena by ILO in 1999 which intended to create better opportunities for men and women and provide decent employment and income (Reynaud, 2018). What is more, Millenium Delectation which provided fair globalization, employment and decent works for all women and young people was implemented with the relevant national and international policies (Reynaud, 2018). Thus, those recommendations by WTO aimed at enhancing the labor rights.

To conclude, it can be said that ILO met some challenges during the Cold War and after the new globalization era that made ILO fight for labor rights and decent work conditions collaborating with WTO which came up with the solutions that ameliorated the situation of labors and enhanced their rights to eliminate inequalities that workers faced due to the Cold War.


1- Erdoğdu, S. (2013) “Uluslararası Sosyal Politikanın Diğer Aktörleri” Uluslararası Sosyal Politika. Eskişehir. Anadolu Üniversitesi. 140-149. Available at

2- Reynaud, E. (2018). “The International Labour Organization and Globalization: Fundamental Rights, Decent Work and Social Justice” ILO Research Paper No. 21 Geneva: International Labour Office. Available at

3- Wikipedia (2021). “International Organizations” Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Available at

4- DCED (2021). “International Labour Organisation (ILO)” DCED. Available at


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