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This research project focused on social sustainability and future regulation of work. The globalized nature of the economy accentuates the need for a more robust transnational labour law in order to tackle social inequality and ensure a minimum floor for the protection of workers. This also raises questions about the role of public institutions at the domestic, regional, and global level. At the same time, an expanding strain of nationalism may render the transnational regulation of labour matters more difficult. In such a context, the existing transnational structures aiming at protecting labour standards may also be challenged and disrupted.
Against this backdrop, the Institute, together with the University of Bristol and the University of Oslo, organised a workshop titled “Transnational Labour Law in an Era of Rising Nationalism: A New Role of Public Institutions for Sustainable Market Practices?” that was held on 20 and 21 June 2018. Bringing together labour lawyers, international lawyers and public lawyers from academia and practice, the workshop inquired into the potential of international institutions to strengthen transnational labour law. A joint aim of the organisers of the workshop was to contribute to a rapprochement of labour law and public international law discourses, which two often unfold in relative isolation from each other.
The debates of the workshop led, among others, to the publication of a special issue of the International Organizations Law Review on “International Institutions, Public Governance and Future Regulation of Work: Taking Stock at the International Labour Organization's Centenary”. This collection of essays takes the ILO's centenary as an opportunity to examine issues of global labour governance from a variety of perspectives. Contributors consider new challenges, including changes to the nature of work due to technological change, but also trends in trade around global value chains and emergent associated forms of migration. The special issue also includes a number of case studies on specific instruments through which international institutions such as the ILO, the IMF or the OECD shape labour standards at the domestic level. In doing so, the contributions also provide insights into how international public authority is exercised in this densely populated field of global governance.