From the Social to the Human Rights of Labor: Reflections on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Art. 23, the ILO, and Working Rights Principles

Coalition for Peace and Ethics, Working Paper NO. 2/1, February 2019

26 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2019

See all articles by Larry Catá Backer

Larry Catá Backer

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law

Date Written: January 27, 2019

Abstract

Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represents the culmination of a substantial transformation in the conceptual baselines for developing legal and normative frameworks respecting work and workers. This chapter considers this movement from a focus on conditions of labor to the modern principles that frame the human rights of labor. Section 1 of the chapter provides the context, situating labor rights within an arc of development from conceptions of social rights to rights embedded within the broad spectrum of human rights. Section 2 examines the movement of labor rights principles from its initial international conceptualization in the newly formed International Labor Organization in 1919 to its eventual expression as the principles of article 23. Section 3 then considers the impact of article 23’s right to work principles. The section first considers the development of labor rights principles through different international instruments. It then considers UDHR labor rights principles as specifically addressed in regional or domestic contexts. It ends with reflections on challenges and obstacles now and going forward.

Keywords: labor rights, human rights, ILO, trafficking child labor, slavery, forced labor, Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, right to work

JEL Classification: M14, J81, J88, K31

Suggested Citation

Backer, Larry Catá, From the Social to the Human Rights of Labor: Reflections on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Art. 23, the ILO, and Working Rights Principles (January 27, 2019). Coalition for Peace and Ethics, Working Paper NO. 2/1, February 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3323925 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3323925

Larry Catá Backer (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

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