Forced Labor

April 27, 1949

Report Outline
World Investigation of Forced Labor
War and Postwar Forced Labor Practices
Forced Labor in Dependent Territories
The United States and Forced Labor Practices
The United Nations and Human Rights

World Investigation of Forced Labor

New Battleground in East-West Conflict

The world investigation of forced labor, voted by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations during its recent session at New York, will be put under way by the International Labor Organization when it meets at Geneva in June. The investigation will open a new front in “the thought war with the Kremlin.” It will bring under close public scrutiny the rival humanitarian claims of democratic and communistic systems of government, and on the relative validity of these claims the world's choice between the two systems may finally turn.

The Economic and Social Council had two rival resolutions on forced labor before it when it took action in March. The first, and the one adopted, was proposed by the United States; the second was offered by the Soviet Union. The United States moved for consideration of the whole problem immediately following the decision of the Council to take up a long-pending request of the American Federation of Labor for an investigation of forced labor. The Federation had supported its request with voluminous evidence of slave conditions in Russian labor camps.

U. S. and U. S. S. R. Resolutions of Inquiry

The United States resolution, introduced Feb. 14, invited the International Labor Organization to give “further consideration to the problem of forced labor and its nature and extent in the light of all possible information, including the memorandum of the American Federation of Labor.” In moving its adoption, the American delegate, Willard L. Thorp, cited the “growing evidence that conditions tantamount to slavery” exist behind the shield of secrecy surrounding Communist countries, and conservative estimates that there are now between 8 million and 14 million prisoners in Russian labor camps. Thorp pointed to earlier admissions of Soviet officials that forced labor existed in the U. S. S. R., and to its steady spread westward wherever Communist regimes had been installed. He directed attention also to the Charter pledges of all U. N. members to promote “human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Human Rights
Nov. 01, 2013  Religious Repression
May 17, 2013  Assisted Suicide
Oct. 16, 2012  Human Trafficking and Slavery
Sep. 20, 2011  Saving Indigenous Peoples
Oct. 30, 2009  Human Rights Issues
Jul. 25, 2008  Human Rights in China
Mar. 26, 2004  Human Trafficking and Slavery
Apr. 30, 1999  Women and Human Rights
Nov. 13, 1998  Human Rights
Jul. 19, 1985  Human Rights in the 1980s
May 18, 1979  Human Rights Policy
Apr. 03, 1968  Human Rights Protection
Mar. 21, 1956  Forced Labor and Slavery
Apr. 27, 1949  Forced Labor
Jan. 25, 1945  Bills of Rights
Outsourcing and Immigration
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union
United Nations