The International Labour Organization, set up in 1919 to develop and promote labour standards, is at a crucial point. It has preached that labour is not a commodity and in 1969 received the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then it has run into trouble. This article considers how the ILO has failed to come to terms with the Global Transformation, seeing it as trying to play three roles — a standard-setter, a technical assistance agency and a knowledge generator — without developing the professional capacity to do so. The big question is whether the ILO could become an effective development agency given the changing character of work and labour in globalizing labour markets and its antiquated governance structure.