In Defence of Transnational Domestic Labor Regulation

57 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2010 Last revised: 26 Oct 2014

Date Written: February 22, 2010


“Transnational domestic labor regulation” (TDLR) is unilateral regulation introduced by a national government that is designed to influence labor practices in foreign jurisdictions. Many governments already use a variety of measures to try and influence foreign labor practices. TDLR has the potential to empower foreign workers and influence the balance of power in foreign industrial relations system in ways that might lead to improvements in labor conditions over time. Particularly interesting is the potential for TDLR to harness or steer the many private sources of labor practice governance already active in shaping labor conditions within global supply chains. However, whether governments should be trying to influence foreign labor practices at all is a controversial question. Does such a strategy not amount to unwarranted interference in the sovereign right of the foreign governments to regulate labor conditions within their own borders? Is this not just another form of Northern protectionism designed to undermine the comparative advantage of developing countries? This article explores the arguments both for and against a unilateral legislative strategy that aims to improve working conditions in foreign countries. While, ultimately, the author is supportive of the strategy, he concludes that the design of the model must incorporate the legitimate warnings in many of the criticisms of the strategy.

Keywords: labor law, transnational law, decentred regulation, New Governance, governance, global supply chains, globalization, private regulation, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations

JEL Classification: K20, K31, K33

Suggested Citation

Doorey, David J., In Defence of Transnational Domestic Labor Regulation (February 22, 2010). Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 42, 2010, CLPE Research Paper No. 02/2010, Available at SSRN:

David J. Doorey (Contact Author)

York University ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3


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