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The Enforcement Problem of International Labour Law

Comparative Perspectives

María Encarnación Gil Pérez    

Ioannis Katsaroumpas    D. Phil. Candidate, University of Oxford, UK, Onassis Foundation Scholar

María Lattanzi    Lawyer specialized in Labour Law. Former Lecturer on Labour Law at the University of Palermo, Buenos

Elena Radevich    Associate Professor, Law Institute of Tomsk State University, Russia

Masahito Toki    Research associate, the University of Tokyo, Japan



The enforcement of international labour law (ILL) becomes more acute problem in the context of globalization and the deployment of neoliberal economic forces threatening the effectiveness of ILL. Based on comparative outlook on this problem with examples taken from five countries, the following general observations could be made. Firstly it is crucial to acknowledge the diversity of the systems of enforcement of non-domestic labour standards. Secondly collective labour rights enjoy lower levels of enforcement than individual rights. This seems to be caused by an issue springing from the particularities of the national traditions as well as a genuine by-product of the neo-liberal expansion against the social sphere. Thirdly, “soft” and “hard” law should not be understood as static categories. The distinction between “soft” and “hard” law cannot be determined a priori, hence a dynamic and flexible approach and potentially a re-reading of the hard/soft law distinction are required. We have concluded that, towards redressing the enforcement problem, there is a need for a radical reconceptualisation of the hard/soft law distinction and a need for a pluralistic, open and integrated approach to different mechanisms of enforcement.