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Labour Rights as Human Rights

Edited by Philip Alston

Oxford University Press, 2005


Labour Rights as Human RightsAre efforts to protect workers' rights compatible with the forces of globalization? How can minimum standards designed to protect labour rights be implemented in a world in which national labour law is more and more at the mercy of international forces beyond its control? And does it make any difference if we see rights such as the right to freedom of association, to non-discrimination in the workplace, to freedom from child labour, and to safe and healthy working conditions in terms of international human rights law? Or are they more appropriately seen as 'principles' to be promoted as and where appropriate?

The contributors to this volume argue that international agreements and institutions are of central importance if labour rights are to be protected in a globalized economy. But the report cards they give to the World Trade Organization, the European Union, NAFTA, and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas are generally very critical. While there is a strong rhetorical commitment to labour rights, at least on the part of the US and the EU, the substance of what has been achieved to date is hardly impressive. The role of the International Labour Organization is central and the authors explore some of the options that are open to governments, civil society, and the labour movement in the years ahead.

Table of Contents


1. Philip Alston, Labour Rights as Human Rights: The Not so Happy State of the Art

2. Simon Deakin, Social Rights in a Globalized Economy

3. Patrick Macklem, The Right to Bargain Collectively in International Law: Workers' Right, Human Right, International Right?

4. Francis Maupain, Is the ILO Effective in Upholding Workers' Rights?: Reflections on the Myanmar Experience

5. Steve Charnovitz, The Labor Dimension of the Emerging Free Trade Area of the Americas

6. Anne Davies, Should the EU Have the Power to Set Minimum Standards for Collective Labour Rights in the Member States?

7. Tonia Novitz, The European Union and International Labour Standards: The Dynamics of Dialogue Between the EU and the ILO





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