The International Labor Organization: The International Standards System and Basic Human Rights

The International Labor Organization: The International Standards System and Basic Human Rights

The International Labor Organization: The International Standards System and Basic Human Rights

The International Labor Organization: The International Standards System and Basic Human Rights


"The International Labor Organization (ILO) is the oldest of the specialized agencies of the United Nations system, and this book is the first in many years to provide - in English - a detailed description of this influential organization. The premier standard-setting system in the world, its Conventions and Recommendations are at the root of most worldwide labor and social legislation implemented over the past seventy-five years. The ILO forms the "social pillar" of the international organizations, functioning as the conscience of the system for labor-related questions. The authors trace the history of the ILO, analyze its mechanisms and procedures and detail its standards for fundamental human rights in the labor arena, including prohibiting forced labor and child labor, preventing discrimination in the workplace, and defending freedom of association. These standards have been ratified by most countries, and their implementation is ensured by the most far-reaching and thorough supervisory mechanism at the international level. The authors discuss the recent practices of states and consider worldwide trends in the observance of these rights." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


This book is an adaptation and updating of a seminal work in the field of international labor law: La Organización Internacional del Trabajo: El sistema normativo internacional -- Los instrumentos sobre derechos humanos fundamentales, by my friends and colleagues,Héctor G. Bartolomei de la Cruz andGeraldo W. von Potobsky (Astrea, Buenos Aires, 1990).

When they asked me to produce an English version of the book, shortly after it appeared in 1990, I was flattered and somewhat daunted by the task. I should have been even more daunted. I saw it initially as a translation job, with some updating. Three things led me to undertake the more formidable job of producing the present work as an entirely new volume, of which much of the material is based on the original in Spanish.

The first challenge was to present this complex subject to an Englishspeaking audience, which does not have the same links to international labor law as do our Spanish and Latin American cousins. Labor law in the United Kingdom and the United States does not derive from international labor law to nearly the same extent as does labor law in other parts of the world. In Englishspeaking Africa it derives largely from British law, but has of necessity drawn on international law for its inspiration in bringing colonial labor law into the late twentieth century. In English-speaking Asia, it also derives in large part from British law, but has been more subject to indigenous influences since most of these countries attained independence. And of course, Asia is developing a distinct voice in international human rights which deserves to be heard. Thus the audience was both wide and varied, making it necessary to tackle these questions from more than one point of view.

The second influence in producing the present volume was the enormous change that has taken place in international human rights, and the aspect of it concerned with labor, since the Spanish version of this book was completed in 1989. The Berlin Wall has fallen, and the world of international organizations and of human rights has changed drastically -- for the better, of course, but nevertheless there has been a lot to say. Before 1989 the chapters on forced labor, discrimination and freedom of association in this volume would have had to contain long sections on the Communist view of the freedom of workers to organize, on the meaning of discrimination on the basis of political opinion in a totalitarian system, and on the consequences for the idea of forced labor of the Soviet concept of the "right and duty" to work. But as I worked on this book, these questions -- which had so preoccupied the ILO during the first 70 years of its existence -- dissolved to almost nothing and this book contains only references to them. It has even become difficult to remember the attention they . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.