WORK WITH OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
The WTO and International Labour Organization
The WTO Secretariat maintains technical exchanges with the International Labour Organization with a view to helping members’ global economic policies. Activities range from compiling statistics, research and technical assistance and training.
Over the years, the role of the WTO and the relationship between WTO agreements and ILO labour standards have been debated, sometimes intensively. There is a body of legal opinion that says the two cannot be examined in isolation because countries have to comply with all their international obligations.
> International Labour Organization (ILO)
Labour standards: consensus,
coherence and controversy
A brief factual account, in the WTO guide “Understanding the WTO”
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The official position
The 1996 Singapore Ministerial Declaration
The paragraph on labour standards
The 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration
The paragraph reaffirming the Singapore Declaration
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The debate over the years
- 9 September 2003.
globalization work for people’, DG Supachai Panitchpakdi, to ICFTU
at Cancún Ministerial Conference
- 28 November 1999.
‘Labour issues is “false
debate” obscuring underlying consensus’, DG Mike Moore to ICFTU at
Seattle Ministerial Conference
- 11 June 1998.
Singapore Conference produced
‘a clear and strong consensus’, DG Renato Ruggiero’s speech to
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Hamburg
- 18 September 1996. Speech to EU trade ministers in Dublin
- 2001 Doha:
> Background briefing note (“A difficult issue for many WTO member governments”)
> News summary 11 November (“China to join on 11 December, Chinese Taipei’s membership also approved”)
- 1999 Seattle:
> Background briefing note (“Subject of intense debate”)
> Excerpt 1 from book “Seattle: what’s at stake”) Concerns and responses — The WTO is only concerned with free trade/WTO rules and liberalization destroy jobs, depress wages and ignore workers’ rights
> Excerpt 2 from book “Seattle: what’s at stake”) Marrakesh to Seattle and what’s ahead — Development challenges in trade and trade policy
> ‘The WTO tramples over labour and human rights’ from Criticism, yes … misinformation, no!
> News summary 2 December (“Ministers consider new and revised texts”)
- 1996 Singapore
> Background briefing note (“Trade and labour standards”)
Research back to top
- August 2003. Is trade liberalization a window of opportunity for
WTO working paper, Hildegun Kyvik Nordås
- November 2000. International trade and the position of European
WTO working paper, Marion Jansen
- September 1996. Labour force growth, trade, and wages
WTO working paper, Joseph F. Francois
Collaboration between ILO and WTO Secretariats
The WTO Secretariat attends sessions of the ILO Governing Body as observer and also routinely participates in meetings of the Governing Body's Working Party on the Social Dimension of Globalization. At different times, WTO participation has been at head-of-agency level: Mr. Lamy addressed the Working Party on 26 March 2007 concerning the WTO/ILO joint study, and former Director-General, Mr. Mike Moore, similarly participated in a Working Party session on 18 March 2002, where the Working Party had before it a paper submitted earlier by the WTO Secretariat on the topic “Trade Liberalization and Employment”.
Further collaboration has occurred in the context of work undertaken between 2002-2004 by the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization (an initiative of the ILO that brought together 26 eminent personalities to look at the different facets of globalization); former Director-General, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, met with the Commission on 14 October 2002.
As well, the WTO Secretariat participates in
follow-up mechanisms to the World Commission, including attendance at
meetings of the ILO's Policy Coherence Initiative. In the last few
years, the WTO Secretariat has on several occasions also attended
conferences and seminars organized by the ILO, when issues of
relevance to the WTO were discussed.
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International Labour Organization (ILO) back to top
The ILO is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights.