International Aspects of Social Reform in the Interwar Period
The reconstruction of the international order after World War I put great emphasis on social reforms through the International Labor Organization (ILO). Three types of arguments were used to promote social reform. The first asserted that international economic competition meant that social reform had to be coordinated internationally in order to maintain the relative competitiveness of countries. The second proposed that social reform was necessary to preserve the stability of states, and hence the stability of the international system. The third appealed for international action on the basis of common notions of human dignity. The idea that common concern about human dignity demanded international action became an assertion of human rights. While this understanding of human rights has helped to inform the pursuit of social justice, the history of the founding and program of the ILO in the interwar period shows that other arguments for social reform have also been historically influential.
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