The ilo and social responsibility
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The ILO and Social Responsibility. Pr. Sophie Robin-Olivier Ecole de droit de la Sorbonne Université Paris I. Overview. History and constitutional basis of the ILO ILO Missions ILO new challenges Free Trade and Social Justice Fair Globalization / Decent work. History.

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The ILO and Social Responsibility

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The ilo and social responsibility

The ILO and Social Responsibility

Pr. Sophie Robin-Olivier

Ecole de droit de la Sorbonne

Université Paris I


Overview

Overview

  • History and constitutional basis of the ILO

  • ILO Missions

  • ILO new challenges

    Free Trade and Social Justice

    FairGlobalization / Decentwork


History

History

1919: the ILO iscreated in the wake of World war I and the bolshevikrevolution

Basic ideas :

  • International cooperationisneeded to avoid national rivalry

  • Avoid the extension of the communistrevolution (linkedwithbadlabor conditions)

  • For socialist and Union leaders: the ILO is a way to establish an institutionallink for cross-bordersolidarity


Constitutional basis of the ilo

Constitutional basis of the ILO

  • Initially : chapter XIII of the treaty of Versailles establishing the League of Nations

    « Universal peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice… »

    The treaty itself requires improvement of labour conditions, including working time regulation, prevention of unemployment, an adequate living wage…


Evolution

Evolution

  • The League of Nations disappears at the end of the 1930’s

  • ILO becomes a separate entity, joined by the US in 1934

  • Ambitious program: elaboration of labor standards (working hours, child labor, health and safety, maritime workers…)


Post war period

Post warperiod

  • 1944: Philadelphia conference

    ILO becomes a UN agency

    Philadelphia Declaration of 1944 (incorporated in the ILO constitution) reaffirms the fondamental principles on which the organizationisbased


4 major principles

4 major principles

1- Labor is not a commodity

2- Freedom of expression and association are essential to sustainedprogress

3- Povertyanywhereconstitutes a danger to prosperityeverywhere

4- Promotion of commonwelfareis to beensured by concerted international efforts by representatives of workers, employers and governments on an equal basis (=> trilateral organisation)


Post war evolution

Post warevolution

Adoption of important conventions on freedom of association, right to organize, right to collective bargaining

1948: Convention 87

1949: Convention 98

Thesetexts have a higherstatus (constitutional)

All governments are supposed to respect them, even if theydid not ratifythem


1950 1980

1950-1980

Cold war

Various conventions are adopted

+

The ILO provides support to Unions in Poland, to workers in Latin American dictatorships, in South Africa…


1989 and beyond

1989 and beyond

  • Fall of the Berlin wall opens new frontiers

  • New problems also: globalization and the impact on workers’rights

  • 1995: social summit in Copenhagen

    Social Justice becomes a more central objective on the international agenda


Missions of the ilo

Missions of the ILO

1- Standard setting

2- Handling complaints

3- Technical assistance


1 standard setting

1- Standard setting

1) Conventions (189)

Need ratifications to bebinding (US ratified 14 conventions, France, 104)

The effect of ratification depends on national Constitutions


1 standard setting1

1-Standard setting

2) 1998 Declaration on Fundamentalprinciples and rightsatwork

« Core Labor Standards » Declaration

Obligation for all States to respect, promote and realize a series of (4) fundamentalrights


Core labor standards

Core Labor Standards

  • Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining

  • The elimination of all forms of forcedlabor

  • The effective abolition of childlabor

  • The elimination of discriminations in employment and occupation


Enforcement of core labor standards

Enforcement of Core Labor Standards

  • Annual report by all countries on 1 of the 4 standards (cycle)

  • General report drawnfrom national reports by the Director General

    = strictlypromotionalfollow-upmecanism


2 complaint handling

2- Complaint handling

2 bodies:

- Committee on Freedom of Association (for conventions 87 & 98)

  • Committee of experts on the application of conventions and recommendations

    -> examines annual reports made by governments on ratification progress & application of ratified conventions

    -> receives complaints filed by one government against another (or complaints by a union or an employer) for violation of a convention


2 complaint handling1

2- Complaint handling

  • Basis: documentary information provided by complainants and respondinggovernment +

    Factfinding missions (rare)

  • Result: reports and recommendations

    indicatingwhether a state does or not violate the convention

    (no real decisions)


Lack of enforcement power

Lack of enforcement power ?

Is the ILO « toothless » ?

Nuance:

  • The ECtHR or other courts make use of ILO Conventions & expert committeesinterpretations

  • Art 33 of the ILO Constitution

    Afterexhausting all otherpossibilities to bring the violator in compliancewith ILO obligations « the governing body mayrecommend to the conferencesuch action as itmaydeemwise & expedient to securecompliance »

    =>tradesanctions


Impact of core labour standards

Impact of Core Labour Standards?

From hard to soft law ?

Revitalization or retreat?

DebatebetweenAlston, Maupain& Langille

Questions about the impact of CLS

  • A reference in tradeagreements & codes of conduct or otherprivate initiative?

  • A risk of watering-down more precise and strongernorms?

  • Interpretation?

  • Impact on the race to the bottom? Unfaircompetition?


3 technical assistance

3-Technical assistance

Support to member states to:

  • Draftlegislation

  • Train labour inspectors

  • Develop job placement services for unemployed

  • Find alternatives to child labour…


3 technical assistance1

3-Technical assistance

Examples

  • International program for the elimination of childlabor (IPEC)

    - US/Cambodiatrade agreement: ILO provides support for the laborside dimension of the trade agreement


Ilo new challenges

ILO new challenges

  • Free Trade and Social Justice

    The social clause debate

  • FairGlobalization / Decentwork

    « ILO declaration on social justice for a Fairglobalization » (2008)

    « Decentwork » initiative (2002)


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