Transborder Labour Liberalization: A Path to Enforcement of the Global Social Contract for Labour
Karen E. Bravo
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
April 1, 2009
The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, 2009
The failure to liberalize labor undermines the vision for a globalized world. Individual labor providers seeking to exchange their labor for value are stymied by state barriers (borders).
The path to the framing, implementation and enforcement of a global social contract for the protection of labor is to liberalize labor from the nation state constraints to which the transborder labor market is subject. While the demands of the globalized transnational economy call for the movement of labor from one domestic economy to another, individual nation state domestic immigration law and the near-silence of multilateral trade law block such movement, barricading domestic labor providers from access to transborder labor markets. Labor is hampered in its ability to operate in the global sphere, with a consequent negative impact on its ability to transpose and enforce domestic social contracts onto the global sphere, or to enforce those international standards (such as ILO conventions) that already exist.
The transnational labor market is characterized by the illegality and temporariness that is assigned by states to mobile and would-be mobile human providers of labor. Both Western and less developed nations participate in an extensive transborder trade in labor through, among other mechanisms, bilateral and multilateral agreements and understandings, some of long standing. Opportunities for exploitation and conditions of inequality are increased in both the formal and informal transnational labor market as less powerful states transmit their unequal bargaining status to their nationals. The liberalization of labor under the auspices of the WTO will allow human labor providers to compete and collaborate with capital on the global stage. Global competition and collaboration between and among labor and capital are more likely sources of the formation of a global social contract than is reliance on the current framework of global labor standards.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: labor, social contract, globalization
JEL Classification: F01, F02, F15, F22, K31, K33Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 15, 2009
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