The Future of the International Labour Organization in the Global Economy

By Francis Maupain

The International Labor Organization (ILO) was created in 1919, as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice. As the oldest organization in the UN system, approaching its 100th birthday in 2019, the ILO faces unprecedented strains and challenges. Even before the financial crisis, the global economy tested the limits of a regulatory regime which was designed in 1919. The ILO's founders only charged it with balancing social progress with the constraints of an interconnected open economy, but gambled almost entirely on the tools of persuasion to ensure that this would happen. Whether that gamble is still capable of paying off is the subject of this book, written by a former ILO insider with an unrivaled knowledge of its work. The book forms part of a broader inquiry into the relevance of founding institutional principles to today's context, and it 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 organization's institutional context differs from 93 years ago, the book goes on to evaluate the prospects of numerous proposals put forward today, including the trade/labor linkage, but also 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 organization, labor law, law and society, or political economy.


320 pages

Publication Date: 10/23/2013
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781849465021