Child Labor, Trade and Investment: Toward a Harmonization of International Law

American Journal of International Law, Vol. 91, No. 4, October 1997

18 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2011 Last revised: 10 May 2014

See all articles by Janelle Marie Diller

Janelle Marie Diller

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

David A. Levy

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 1997

Abstract

Amid growing awareness of the economic exploitation of children, this paper juxtaposes the multilateral trade regime and international law governing labor standards and human rights. The charters for both trade and labor regimes are premised on the interdependence of economic and social progress. Nonetheless, the legal norms governing the various regimes differ in their scope and application to child labor and formal linkages do not exist between the two specialized governance systems.

This paper proposes that established rules of international law compel the harmonization of international trade rules with international labor and human rights norms that prohibit the worst forms of child labor. Obligations under the multilateral trade regime can be interpreted and implemented in light of either higher values, represented by peremptory norms of customary international law, or common commitments, where parties to international trade obligations are also bound by international human rights and labor law. Based on a working definition of "extreme forms of child labor", the Note examines relationships among peremptory norms, customary international law and treaty law. It then considers the degree to which extreme forms of child labor can be said to come within the scope of jus cogens, customary law and common treaty obligations relevant in particular to slavery, labor, and human rights. The Note analyzes the applicability of those norms to obligations under multilateral agreements governing international trade and, where relevant, U.S. domestic law and the international obligations of the United States. It further evaluates the role of norms relating to child labor in the development of investment treaty and domestic law, and private actors' initiatives, including codes of conduct and labeling programs. The Note concludes that the interpretation of the norms of the specialized regimes consistently with those prohibiting extreme forms of child labor is compelled as a matter of law, and is essential to the realization of the aim of economic and social progress which is common to international trade, human rights, and labor law.

JEL Classification: F1, J1, K20, K31, K33

Suggested Citation

Diller, Janelle Marie and Levy, David A., Child Labor, Trade and Investment: Toward a Harmonization of International Law (1997). American Journal of International Law, Vol. 91, No. 4, October 1997, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1807249

Janelle Marie Diller (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva ( email )

Maison de la Paix
Eugene-rigot 2
Geneva, Ontario CH-1211
Switzerland

David A. Levy

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
181
Abstract Views
916
Rank
307,141
PlumX Metrics