With all the "politicizing" of international ventures, from Olympic sports to refugee aid, it is good to recognize an instance of depoliticization. This has occurred in the International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nations body from which the United States withdrew in 1977 in protest against too much politicization. Now President Carter, backed by a Cabinet-level committee, sees enough evidence in a positive direction to bring the US back into the ILO.
The preference of America's European allies, not to mention third-world countries, had been for the US to stay in all along, not only for its financial support but as a constructive inside influence. We, too, felt that it was important for the US to keep up the struggle to further ILO goals of improving the lot of workers around the world and to preserve these goals from political distortions.
A coalition of communist-bloc and third- world nations had been preventing ILO acceptance of reports critical of labor conditions in their countries. Meanwhile, labor practices in democratic countries were seen as fair game. The AFL-CIO had reached a point of deciding to withdraw even if US representation continued. When Mr. Carter did withdraw, our hope was that the ILO would undertake speedy reforms and encourage the US to rejoin it.
Now it is reported that some communist countries in the ILO have indeed been challenged on their labor practices. The ILO has been used less as a vehicle to attack the US and, a particular target of some members, Israel. The US has been given commitments against certain politicizing activities.
At any rate, the AFL-CIO is sufficiently satisfied to return. And there seems to be a realization that staying out much longer would risk a diminution of US influence in world labor matters.
It is appropriate for the US to be in the ILO. The ILO deserves credit for making it possible for Mr. Carter to come in through the door he deliberately left ajar two years ago.