Global Labour Standards and Local Freedoms

  • Kaushik Basu
Part of the Studies in Development Economics and Policy book series (SDEP)


For some time I have been working on the problem of international labour standards, labour rights and child labour, and in particular the tensions between global intentions and local aspirations and freedoms. This gives rise to a host of practical problems concerning what the ILO should do, what the WTO could potentially do and what the global policy options are for the US government or the Finnish government. But I plan to dwell relatively little on these practical matters and spend more time on the abstruse theoretical questions that underlie this practical debate. I believe the theoretical debate is important to ensure that our interventions do not go wrong, do not hurt the very constituencies they are meant to help. The impatience that international bureaucrats and policy makers show with abstract debates in their muscular desire to get on with the business of legislating and crafting policy can do much harm. And UNU-WIDER, perched uncomfortably between academe and the world of policy, is a good place to debate some of the abstract principles of economics that underlie global and national-level interventions to uphold minimal labour standards and worker rights.


Sexual Harassment Child Labour International Criminal Court Multiple Equilibrium Safe Work 
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© United Nations University 2005

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  • Kaushik Basu

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