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The ILO and Enforcement of Core Labor Standards

Policy Briefs 00-6


Although many deny it, a linkage between trade policy and labor standards clearly exists.1 The International Labor Organization (ILO), long ignored and belittled, is suddenly popular with various constituents who desperately want to deflect pressure to incorporate labor standards in trade agreements and the World Trade Organization (WTO). As a result, the ILO today is getting significantly more attention, more political support, and more resources to deal with core labor standards, especially child labor. In 1998, with strong support from the United States, other developed country governments, and key representatives of employers and workers, the ILO adopted a new Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. In 1999, the ILO approved a new convention to combat the worst forms of child labor, a convention that is being ratified at the fastest rate in ILO history. This year, for the first time, the ILO invoked Article 33 of its constitution in an effort to compel Burma to abolish forced labor.

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