23 Jun 2015
The International Regulatory Framework for National Employment Policies: Examples from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa… (pdf)
r4d working paper 2015/8 by Christian Häberli
Employment policy is sensitive, and it is basically national even though international labour standards are even older than the United Nations. Globalisation is changing this situation where countries are free to prefer “more” or “better” jobs. The multilat-eral framework of the World Trade Organization at present can only have an indirect impact. But Regional Trade Agreements and International Investment Agreements are emerging as a new way of gradually enhancing the impact of the core labour standards. Unilateral measures both by governments and importers driven by social and environmental consumer preferences and pressure groups increasingly shape the international regulatory framework for national employment policies which even small, locally operating enterprises cannot fail to take into account without risking marginalisation and market exclusion. The long-term influence of this new multi-pronged action on employment policies and on job location, gender issues and social coherence remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the admittedly flimsy evidence gathered here seems to indicate that this new, international framework might increase sustain-able employment where and when supporting measures, including through unilateral preferences and even sanctions, form a “cocktail” which export-oriented economies will find palatable.