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Labour standards and ILO’s effectiveness in the governance of globalization


  • Fabrizio Onida

    (CESPRI, Bocconi University- Italy)


The paper starts with a brief recollection of International Labor Office (ILO)’s historical milestones – ILO being the only tripartite international organization with representatives of labour, industry and governments - covering the main Conventions on labour standards (including the four “core labour standards”). Then the paper focuses on ILO’s main duties as a supervisor of labour markets conditions and as an agent and direct player with local governments: designing appropriate policies for a “decent work” agenda in the world, pushing for the widest possible adoption of the Conventions themselves by member countries, monitoring compliance of those standards, promoting bilateral and multilateral actions with governments aimed at correcting major violations of these standards. Special emphasis is given to possible improvements in the effectiveness of ILO’s procedures and initiatives, under the assumption that actions based on positive incentives are far more plausible and effective than negative sanctions, especially in view of greater coherence between ILO and WTO mission in promoting a better governance of globalization. Examples of such actions are moral suasion on policy makers aimed at affecting labour legislation, design of unilateral trade concessions and/or regional trade liberalization agreements conditional on actual commitment to improve labour and social conditions in the target country (such as GSP+), joint initiatives with multinational companies and local government in developing countries so as to diffuse school attendance and eradicate worst forms of child labour , training of public administrators-legal experts-union leaders trough the ILO’s special training office in Turin (Italy). Summary references are made to the ongoing debate about globalization, inequalities, “race to the bottom”, quality of institutions. The final section summarizes major conclusions and recommendations that have been approved by CNEL’s general assembly on June 5, 2008, also in view of the annual meeting of AICESIS (International Association of Economic and Social Councils) held in Rome on June 12, 2008.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabrizio Onida, 2008. "Labour standards and ILO’s effectiveness in the governance of globalization," KITeS Working Papers 218, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Jul 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:cri:cespri:wp218

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    Cited by:

    1. Özlem Özgür BÜYÜKDERE, 2019. "100.Yılında Uluslararası Çalışma Örgütü: Değişen Koşullarda Politika Tercihleri ve Yönelimler," Journal of Social Policy Conferences, Istanbul University, Faculty of Economics, vol. 0(77), pages 59-96, December.

    More about this item


    Labour standards; ILO; WTO; globalization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations

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