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Global Governance of Labour Rights

Assessing the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives Edited by Axel Marx, Deputy Director, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU Leuven, Jan Wouters, Full Professor of International Law and International Organizations, Jean Monnet Chair ad personam EU and Global Governance and Director, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and Institute for International Law, KU Leuven, Glenn Rayp, Professor in International Economics, Department of Economics, University of Ghent and Laura Beke, Doctoral Researcher, KU Leuven, Belgium
This insightful book incorporates perspectives from several disciplines to provide a unique systematic analysis of emerging public and private initiatives in global labour rights governance. The expert contributors explore the complexities of labour rights governance in a global economy characterized by transnational supply chains. They assess how transnational, intergovernmental and private initiatives aim to address the challenges of global labour rights protection before discussing the effectiveness of these initiatives and presenting new empirical findings. The book concludes with a detailed reflection on how to strengthen the global regime of labour rights governance.
Extent: 352 pp
Hardback Price: $147.00 Web: $132.30
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 978 1 78471 145 0
Availability: In Stock

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  • Law - Academic
  • Human Rights
  • Regulation and Governance
  • Labour, Employment Law
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Human Rights
  • Regulation and Governance
Stories and images of collapsed factories, burned down sweatshops, imprisoned migrant workers, child workers and many other violations of internationally recognized labour rights continue to spread across the globe. This highly topical book examines the different instruments which are intended to protect labour rights on a transnational scale, and asks whether they make a difference.

With perspectives from law, management, sociology, political science and political economy, the topics discussed include the protection of international labour rights in a globalizing economy, the EU’s social dimension in its external trade relations, Asian and US perspectives on labour rights in international trade agreements, the role of (trade) unions in global labour governance and the transformative capacity of private labour governance regimes.

Academics and advanced students from different disciplines will benefit from the up-to-date empirical material in this study. Policymakers, NGOs and Unions will find the discussions of the instruments used to protect labour rights of great value to their work.

‘Global Governance of Labour Rights provides an outstanding collection of essays examining how international trade relations, trade agreements and non-state actors influence labour rights governance. This well-crafted, coherent, and thoughtful volume will make important contributions to the ongoing debates on the regulation and enforcement of labour rights.’
– Aseem Prakash, University of Washington, Seattle, US

‘The Editors have managed to make, through this volume, a major contribution to the on-going discussion regarding the “internationalization” of labour rights. Their single most important achievement is that they have produced a coherent “whole” out of many heterogeneous parts. Both the intra-EU, as well as the international dimension, are skillfully debated in a volume that does not simply view the former as a hothouse for the latter, but discusses the interactions of the two orders in the most systematic way.’
– Petros C. Mavroidis, Columbia Law School, New York City, US

‘This excellent collection of essays provides fresh transnational and critical perspectives on the often ignored topic of labour rights. Ugly reports of collapsed factories and buried workers, of slave-like conditions among migrants and children, continue to horrify readers and viewers worldwide. What can be done? This book contains some long-awaited answers.’
– Thomas G. Weiss, The City University of New York’s Graduate Center, US

‘The bulk of the world’s governments and a growing number of firms now say they respect labour rights. Yet scholars, activists and policymakers have little understanding of the effectiveness of ILO conventions and government initiatives. In this important and well-written book, we get answers to many of the most pressing questions about how governments and private sector actors can advance labour rights and conditions. Kudos to Marx, Wouters, Rayp and Beke for a must-read book.’
– Susan Ariel Aaronson, Research Professor of International Affairs and Director eBay policy scholars, Elliot School, GWU
Contributors: L. Beke, R.C. Brown, R. Cörvers, Y. Dahan, J. Donaghey, P. Glasbergen, F. Hendrickx, D. Klink, S. Koch-Baumgarten, M. Kryst, H. Lerner, A. Marx, F. Milman-Sivan, A.-G. ‘Tobi’ Oshodi, P. Pecinovsky, C. Pekdemir, G. Rayp, J. Reinecke, J. Soares, W. Van Acker, L. Van den Putte, P. van der Heijden, S. Velluti, J. Wouters, R. Zandvliet


1. Protecting Labour Rights in a Globalizing World: An Introduction
Axel Marx, Jan Wouters, Laura Beke and Glenn Rayp

2. The Protection of International Labour Rights. A Longitudinal Analysis of the Protection of the Rights of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining over 30 years in 73 countries
Axel Marx, Jadir Soares and Wouter Van Acker

3. The EU’s Social Dimension and its External Trade Relations
Samantha Velluti

4. Divided We Stand: The European Parliament’s Position on Social Trade in the Post-Lisbon Era
Lore Van den Putte

5. Asian and US Perspectives on Labor Rights under International Trade Agreements Compared
Ronald C. Brown

6. EU Economic Governance and Labour Rights: Diversity and Coherence in the EU, the Council of Europe and ILO Instruments
Frank Hendrickx and Pieter Pecinovsky

7. Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining Power in Global Labor Governance
Sigrid Koch-Baumgarten and Melanie Kryst

8. The Rapprochement of ILO Standards and CSR Mechanisms: Towards a Positive Understanding of the ‘Privatization’ of International Labour Standards
Ruben Zandvliet and Paul van der Heijden

9. Between the Dragon’s Gift and its Claws: China in Africa and the (Un)Civil Fostering of ILO’s Decent Work Agenda
Abdul-Gafar ‘Tobi’ Oshodi

10. On the Transformative Capacity of Private Fair Labour Arrangements
Ceren Pekdemir, Pieter Glasbergen and Ron Cörvers

11. Compliance Opportunities and the Effectiveness of Private Voluntary Standard Setting – Lessons from the Global Banana Industry
Dennis Klink

12. The ‘Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’ in Response to the Rana Plaza Disaster
Juliane Reinecke and Jimmy Donaghey

13. The International Labour Organization, Multinational Enterprises, and Shifting Conceptions of Responsibility in the Global Economy
Yossi Dahan, Hanna Lerner and Faina Milman-Sivan

14. Conclusion: Which Way to Enforcement?
Glenn Rayp, Axel Marx and Jan Wouters