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International Labor Law

International labor law (otherwise known as labour standards) is the body of rules that span public and private international law, concerning rights and duties of employees, employers, trade unions, and government in regulating the workplace. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been the main international bodies involved in reforming labor markets.

A supervisory process helps to "ensure that standards ratified by individual member States are applied in law and practice and the ILO provides advice in the drafting of national labour laws."³

Since the industrial revolution, the labor movement has been concerned with how economic globalization could weaken the bargaining power of workers.¹ This could happen, as their employers could decide to hire employees abroad where protection and labor standards are not the same as they are at home (essentially, cheap labor).¹

The International Labour Organization (ILO)

The ILO was created in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I.² It "reflect[s] the belief that universal and lasting peae can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice."² The driving forces for the founding of the ILO arose from security, humanitarian, political, and economic considerations. There was an "increasing understanding of the world's economic interdependence and the need for cooperation to obtain similarity of working conditions in countries competing for markets."²


Image source:

1. Wikimedia


1. Marx, Karl. (1869). Report of the General Council to the Fourth Annual Congress.

2. International Labour Organization. Origins and history. Retrieved May 6, 2014, from http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/lang--en/index.htm

3. International Labour Organization. International Labour Standards. Retrieved May 6, 2014, from http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/index.php?option=com_content&id=1101&Itemid=962