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Linking Trade Law With the Human Rights of Workers - the Proposal to Incorporate a Social Clause into the World Trade Organization

Becking, Ludvig (2005)
Department of Law
Abstract
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was created in 1919 and this organization is the main global actor as regards the creation and supervision of labour standards. The combination of the regular work of the ILO in assisting member countries to comply with labour standards and its multifaceted supervising system has made ILO a successful organization in developing and implementing the human rights of workers. However, the main channels of enforcement of the organization are 'name-and-shame', procedures common to most human rights instruments. These enforcement mechanisms are not punitive and the ILO has therefore been described as 'toothless'. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995. Since its creation there has... (More)
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was created in 1919 and this organization is the main global actor as regards the creation and supervision of labour standards. The combination of the regular work of the ILO in assisting member countries to comply with labour standards and its multifaceted supervising system has made ILO a successful organization in developing and implementing the human rights of workers. However, the main channels of enforcement of the organization are 'name-and-shame', procedures common to most human rights instruments. These enforcement mechanisms are not punitive and the ILO has therefore been described as 'toothless'. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995. Since its creation there has been an ongoing debate of whether the rules regulating trade in this organization should be complemented with rules safeguarding the human rights of workers, a so-called 'social clause'. The power of the WTO has lead many commentators to conclude that there is a discrepancy between the enforcement of economic and social rules at the international level. The ILO enforcement mechanism has by comparison been described as weak, as the possibilities of sanctioning violations of standards are not at all as developed and automatic as the rules of the WTO. There are a number of unilateral mechanisms for linking trade and labour standards. This clearly demonstrates that there is nothing unprecedented about linking trade and labour rights. However, the negative aspects of the current mechanisms are numerous&semic they are often not legally enforceable and when they are, the mechanisms are often politicized and inadequate. This has led to misuse of these systems for protectionist reasons. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has proposed a social clause based on co-operation between the ILO and the WTO. This social clause is to enforce the standards adopted in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles at Work. The discussion surrounding the social clause has mainly been described as a debate between the developed countries, supporting the clause, and the developing nations, opposing it. However, this picture needs to be complemented by the fact that several trade unions in the developing countries are positive to the social clause. Furthermore, the labour rights in the social clause might well work for the benefit of the developing nations. If the human rights of workers are not equally enforced worldwide all countries will have to struggle to compete with the most exploited labour force in the market. (Less)
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author
Becking, Ludvig
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Folkrätt
language
English
id
1556039
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:19
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:19
@misc{1556039,
  abstract     = {The International Labour Organization (ILO) was created in 1919 and this organization is the main global actor as regards the creation and supervision of labour standards. The combination of the regular work of the ILO in assisting member countries to comply with labour standards and its multifaceted supervising system has made ILO a successful organization in developing and implementing the human rights of workers. However, the main channels of enforcement of the organization are 'name-and-shame', procedures common to most human rights instruments. These enforcement mechanisms are not punitive and the ILO has therefore been described as 'toothless'. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995. Since its creation there has been an ongoing debate of whether the rules regulating trade in this organization should be complemented with rules safeguarding the human rights of workers, a so-called 'social clause'. The power of the WTO has lead many commentators to conclude that there is a discrepancy between the enforcement of economic and social rules at the international level. The ILO enforcement mechanism has by comparison been described as weak, as the possibilities of sanctioning violations of standards are not at all as developed and automatic as the rules of the WTO. There are a number of unilateral mechanisms for linking trade and labour standards. This clearly demonstrates that there is nothing unprecedented about linking trade and labour rights. However, the negative aspects of the current mechanisms are numerous&semic they are often not legally enforceable and when they are, the mechanisms are often politicized and inadequate. This has led to misuse of these systems for protectionist reasons. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has proposed a social clause based on co-operation between the ILO and the WTO. This social clause is to enforce the standards adopted in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles at Work. The discussion surrounding the social clause has mainly been described as a debate between the developed countries, supporting the clause, and the developing nations, opposing it. However, this picture needs to be complemented by the fact that several trade unions in the developing countries are positive to the social clause. Furthermore, the labour rights in the social clause might well work for the benefit of the developing nations. If the human rights of workers are not equally enforced worldwide all countries will have to struggle to compete with the most exploited labour force in the market.},
  author       = {Becking, Ludvig},
  keyword      = {Folkrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Linking Trade Law With the Human Rights of Workers - the Proposal to Incorporate a Social Clause into the World Trade Organization},
  year         = {2005},
}