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ILO, labor, international organizations, populism, work, workplace protections, informal economy, international standard setting, social protection, international economic law


The centenary of the International Labor Organization (ILO) provides an opportunity to take stock of the organization’s many achievements. But the centenary also calls for a clear-eyed assessment of the profound challenges that the ILO currently faces – including the growth of the informal and gig economies, digitization and automation, and rising material inequality – and the populist ferment that those trends have helped to engender. This essay, part of a forthcoming AJIL Unbound symposium on "The Transnational Futures of International Labor Law," sketches the ILO’s rich history of legal and policy innovation in response to changes in labor conditions worldwide. It then identifies four impediments to the ILO’s ability to ameliorate the hardships and dislocations of the 21st century workplace, including the rapid rise of nationalist populism in many countries.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

International Labour Organisation, International law--Economic aspects, Employees, International labor laws and legislation