International Economic Law, Globalization and Developing Countries
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International Economic Law, Globalization and Developing Countries

Edited by Julio Faundez and Celine Tan

International Economic Law, Globalization and Developing Countries explores the impact of globalization on the international legal system, with a special focus on the implications for developing countries.
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Chapter 11: Core Labour Standards Conditionalities: A Means by Which to Achieve Sustainable Development?

Tonia Novitz


Tonia Novitz* 1. INTRODUCTION In the twenty-first century, ‘core’ labour standards have emerged as an apparently legitimate subject for trade and aid conditionality in the pursuit of sustainable development. This chapter explains how this situation has come about and challenges current complacency on this issue. The second section of the chapter contrasts results-led and participatory views of sustainable development and identifies how, despite the tendency of policy-makers to focus on a results-based approach, the protection of labour standards could be associated with a participatory orientation. The third section considers how a very limited number of ‘fundamental principles and rights at work’ came to be identified as ‘core’ by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and considers critically the pros and cons of this selective approach. The fourth section of the chapter discusses the use of core labour standards in conditionality, including an overview of this practice in lending institutions and under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). It is suggested that promotion of labour standards could prove a useful means by which to achieve sustainable development, but that this requires opportunities for inclusive dialogue and participatory strategies. Such procedural mechanisms are now receiving greater attention, but have yet to fully permeate current modes of conditionality. Indeed, the forms of conditionality that have emerged have done so despite vocal resistance from governments and civil society (including some trade unions) in developing states. This is likely to limit the extent to which the procedures currently in * Professor of Law, School of Law, University...

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