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The Future of the International Labour Organization in the Global Economy

By: Francis Maupain
Media of The Future of the International Labour Organization in the Global Economy
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Published: 23-10-2013
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 320
ISBN: 9781782252368
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £63.00
Online price : £37.80
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About The Future of the International Labour Organization in the Global Economy

The International Labour Organization was created in 1919, as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice. As the oldest organisation in the UN system, approaching its 100th anniversary in 2019, the ILO faces unprecedented strains and challenges. Since before the financial crisis, the global economy has tested the limits of a regulatory regime which was conceived in 1919. The organisation's founders only entrusted it with balancing social progress with the constraints of an interconnected open economy, but gambled almost entirely on tools of persuasion to ensure that this would happen. Whether that gamble is still capable of paying-off is the subject of this book, by a former ILO insider with an unrivalled knowledge of its work.

The book forms part of a broader inquiry into the relevance of founding institutional principles to today's context, and strives to show that the bet made on persuasion may yet pay off. In part, the text argues that there may be little alternative anyway, showing that the pathways to more binding solutions are fraught with difficulty. It also shows the ILO's considerable future potential for promoting effective, universal regulations by extending its tools of persuasion in as yet insufficiently explored directions. Starting with an examination of how the organisation's institutional context differs from 93 years ago, the author goes on to evaluate the prospects of numerous proposals put forward today, including the trade/labour linkage, but going beyond this.

As a case study in how strategic choices can be made under legal, social and institutional constraints, the book should be valuable not only to those with an interest in the ILO, but to anyone who studies international organisation, labour law, law and society or political economy.

Table Of Contents

Introduction: Whither the ILO's Second Century? Persuasion at its Limits in the Global Economy
I. The (false) dilemma: survival or integrity
II. The real challenge: are 100-year-old institutional choices still valid in the twenty-first century?
III. The core issue
Part I Ninety Years of Transformations in the International System: Challenges Posed to ILO Persuasiveness
1. The Cold War and the trente glorieuses, a Not-Quite Golden Age for the ILO and its Persuasiveness
2. Globalisation Ascendant: The ILO's raison d'être Restored – But the Gamble on Persuasion Nearly Lost
I. Two decades of recurrent social disappointments and the corresponding demand for greater social regulation
II. Which puts into question its capacity to meet the demand through the 'traditional' normative strategy
3. Have Recent Efforts at Institutional Renewal Already Fallen Behind the Pace of Change in the Economic Environment?
I. A renewal in four stages
II. Have the consequences of the financial crisis rendered the renewal old news?
Part II The Proliferation of Multilateral Actors and the Challenge of Coherence
4. Social Goals: Doomed to Remain 'Country Cousins' of Economic Objectives at the Universal Level?
I. From the pre-war marginalisation of the ILO's social objectives to the Declaration of Philadelphia's failed attempt at a hostile takeover
II. The 'mandated' segregation of social considerations in the (former?) practice of the World Bank
5. Employment: Functional 'Common Ground' or Policy Fault-line?
I. Employment: free-standing policy objective or economic windfall?
II. The evolving employment dilemma: quantity vs quality
III. The financial crisis: an (as yet) unexploited opportunity to give social objectives their due
6. Boosting the ILO's Capacity to Promote Coherence
I. Promoting state-level coherence
II. Pursuing coherence through inter-organisational dialogue
III. Actively supporting the emergence of a relevant 'Epistemic Community'
Part III ILO Influence and the Enduring Demand for Universal'Rules of the Game'
7. From the Impasse of the Social Clause Debate to the Delimitation of Fundamental Rights at Work as Shared 'Rules of the Game'
I. From the misleading analogy of 'social dumping'
II. Or ambiguous references to 'internationally recognised worker rights'
III. To the ILO's functionalist approach, turning on 'fundamental rights as enabling rights' (and as potential rules of the game)
8. Can the Social 'Rules of the Game' be Made More Effective by Linking Them to Basic Trade Rules?
I. Legitimacy, perceptions and barriers to a possible legal transplant
II. Reading between the lines: from a formal marriage of trade rules and labour rights to a possible (clandestine) liaison?
9. Decentralised Linkages: A Mixed Blessing for the ILO?
I. A mixed blessing from the viewpoint of implementing ILO standards and procedures
II. A limited 'enforcement' blessing for workers
III. Conclusion: Is there more to the phenomenon than meets the eye?
Part IV The 'Market for Social Justice' to the Rescue of The ILO's Persuasive Capacities?
10. A Lopsided 'Market for Social Justice' Calling for Public Involvement
I. Consumer preferences to the rescue of failing state resolve
II. Public supply of information to overcome market failure
11. Meeting Transnational Demand with a Transnational Supply: A Jointly Established Labelling System
I. From the difficulties of 'labelled at destination' to the possibilities of 'labelled at the origin'
II. Need for a multilateral system of mutual recognition and impartial verification
III. To guarantee what? Effective application by each party of legislation satisfying agreed international labour standards
IV. In conclusion: Is there a market for a market-based approach to social justice?
Conclusion: Reinventing the ILO?
I. Three necessary and feasible aspects of an institutional reinvention
II. Which requires mobilising all actors and drawing on its full array of transformative powers
III. And widening the horizon of social justice

Reviews

“Maupain brings just enough cynicism to his vast knowledge of the international labour realm to present useful prescriptions for change. The depth and breadth of his discussion make this an essential text for scholars and advanced students writing on the history and possible futures of the ILO, and no doubt the ideas for change will provoke productive discussion.” –  Jill Murray, Australian Journal of Labour Law

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