The Three Keys, A symbol of Tripartism / Ivan M.C.S. Elsmark

The Three Keys, A symbol of Tripartism / Ivan M.C.S. Elsmark

The three golden keys shown on the cover of this issue of Message symbolise the tripartite structure of the International Labour Organisation..

Its origin goes back to the opening ceremony of the headquarters building by the lake in 1926. At this important event, the 6. June, the Chairman of the Governing Body. Arthur Fontaine (for the member Governments), together with the two Vice-Chairmen, Jules Carlier (for the employers) and Léon Jouhaux (for the workers), turned the keys in the central entrance gate.

Thereupon Arthur Fontaine declared: “Each group enters in the ILO through the same door, to collaborate on the same task. Each group has the duty to guard our building, and our statues and common purpose. For all of us who have worked at the ILO, the three keys are a living symbol of the Organization and its motto, “Si vis pacem, cole justitiam”, if you want peace, cultivate justice”.

Older colleagues will be undoubtedly remember the gilded lock, which was set at the central main gate towards rue de Lausanne, and place Albert Thomas at the time when ILO occupied the building. They will be pleased to learn that both the lock and the original three golden keys are still preserved in the ILO archives. – May they one day return for their intended use.

The delegations enters the gate to the new ILO building, 6 June 1926.

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