In March 2022 the much-anticipated Handbook on Globalisation and Labour Standards will be published as part of the Handbooks on Globalisation series published by Edward Elgar Publishing. Edited by Kimberly Ann Elliott, the 448-page handbook explores the interaction between globalization and labor standards, public approaches to implementing labor standards under globalization, and private and multi-stakeholder approaches to protecting worker rights in global supply chains. A multi-disciplinary group of academic scholars and practitioners in international law, labor relations, business, sociology, and human resources tackles the topic from all angles in every part of the world, including
- globalization and core labor rights including freedom of association, collective bargaining rights, and elimination of child labor and forced labor;
- work, gender and discrimination in global production;
- labor rights as human rights;
- human resource management and due diligence in global supply chains;
- ILO labor standards and globalization, including their impact on corporate behavior;
- the application of labor provisions in trade agreements in Europe, Asia, North America, and Central America; and
- pioneering new approaches to addressing labor standards in globalization including the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Corporations, Better Factories in Cambodia, Corporate Social Responsibility, the Bangladesh Accord and Alliance, and the use of Blockchain to address labor standards in globalization.
My chapter focuses on the 2017 Arbitral Report in the CAFTA-DR Guatemala labor case, in which the U.S. government activated CAFTA-DR’s dispute resolution mechanism in response to failures by the government of Guatemala to effectively enforce its labor laws. I examine the case in light of the 2004 debate between Petersmann and Alston on whether international trade mechanisms are appropriate fora for the adjudication of human and labor rights. Although the U.S. government lost the arbitration to Guatemala despite demonstrable evidence that Guatemala had failed to effectively enforce its labor laws, legal analysts have found much to hope for in future legal strategies and proposed reforms. I also point out that the assertion that trade arbitration is more effective than slower, more accretive international assistance and monitoring methods is unproven. Before and after the 2017 Arbitral Report was released, the ILO, ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA), and ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) have continued important work through technical assistance, monitoring, and social dialogue to address inequality, poverty, violence, and inadequate labor laws and rights in Guatemala.
The Handbook on Globalisation and Labour Standards has already garnered critical acclaim from leading labor scholars Anne Trebilcock and Tonia Novitz. It reflects the current state of legal and policy “technology” used to tackle the issues of the rights and working conditions of people in a globalized world – and can be used as an intellectual basis for developing new legal and policy technologies to better address these issues from now and into the future. I am really excited and honored to have my work featured in this book and look forward to new possibilities based on critical analysis of our contribution to the field of study of globalization and labor standards.