International Labour Rights: Legitimising the International Legal Order


Ruth Dukes


Date added: 

Friday, November 3, 2023


This paper considers the role of international labour rights in an era of globalisation. It begins from Patrick Macklem's definition of that role in terms of providing the international legal order with a measure of normative legitimacy. It then interrogates the relationship between sovereignty and international labour rights in an era of globalization, highlighting the particular significance, in this context, of the voluntary surrender by nation states of elements of their sovereignty. It questions whether Macklem has given due consideration to this phenomenon, and to its consequences for the rights and interests of workers; whether, therefore, he has succeeded in providing an account of international labour rights that is at once descriptive and normative, as he intends it to be. Having drawn attention to the limitations of international labour rights, the paper concludes by commenting briefly on the desirability of a body of transnational labour law, of which international labour law would form only one part.