Advancing Respect for Labour Rights Globally Through Public Procurement

Politics and Governance 2017, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 69–79 DOI: 10.17645/pag.v5i4.1073

University of Groningen Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 15/2018

12 Pages Posted: 14 May 2018 Last revised: 26 Jun 2018

See all articles by Olga Martin-Ortega

Olga Martin-Ortega

University of Greenwich - School of Law

Claire Methven O'Brien

Danish Institute for Human Rights, Human Rights and Development Department; University of St. Andrews School of Management; University of Groningen, Faculty of Law - International and Constitutional Law

Date Written: October 2, 2017

Abstract

Governments are mega-consumers of many manufactured products and services. As such they should in principle be able to influence workers’ rights abroad via the terms of purchase contracts. Yet historically little attention has been paid to the potential of public procurement to promote respect for labour rights globally besides the international trade law framework. Building on a limited emerging scholarship and policy developments this article addresses this gap. Section 2 considers legal definitions of public procurement and distinguishes primary and secondary aims of procurement under key international and regional procurement regimes. This highlights that, although used historically to advance labour rights domestically, these regimes have restricted public buyers’ scope to advance labour rights beyond national borders. Section 3 explores new international policy frameworks on responsible global value chains and supply chains which by contrast appear to augur the greater use of public procurement to promote labour rights globally in future. Section 4 argues, supported by analysis of the limited examples available, that public buying has the potential to positively influence labour rights in practice. Concluding, Section 5 reflects on what the more specific impacts of public procurement in this context may be, and how public buying should complement other mechanisms for improving labour conditions across supply chains, such as social clauses in trade agreements. Finally, we outline issues for further research and the future policy agenda.

Keywords: Labour rights; European Union; Public procurement; Social clauses; UNCITRAL; UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; Sustainable Development Goals, WTO

JEL Classification: H57, K23, K38, K42

Suggested Citation

Martin-Ortega, Olga and Methven O'Brien, Claire, Advancing Respect for Labour Rights Globally Through Public Procurement (October 2, 2017). Politics and Governance 2017, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 69–79 DOI: 10.17645/pag.v5i4.1073; University of Groningen Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 15/2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3170368

Olga Martin-Ortega

University of Greenwich - School of Law

CampusOld Royal Naval College
Park Row
London, SE10 9LS
United Kingdom

Claire Methven O'Brien (Contact Author)

Danish Institute for Human Rights, Human Rights and Development Department ( email )

Wilders Plads 8K
Copenhagen K, 1403
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://www.humanrights.dk/staff/claire-methven-obrien

University of St. Andrews School of Management ( email )

The Gateway
St. Andrews, Fife KY16 9SS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/management/

University of Groningen, Faculty of Law - International and Constitutional Law ( email )

Groningen, 9700 AS
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.rug.nl/rechten/organization/vakgroepen/int/c-methven-o-brien/cv?lang=en

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
24
Abstract Views
198
PlumX Metrics