Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Adelle Blackett and Anne Trebilcock
Chapter 24: Emergent maritime labour law: Possible implications for other transnational labour fields
The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) is a bold and welcome attempt to bring social justice to the maritime world. The MLC entered into force in 2013 and establishes a global regulatory framework for labour protection and enforcement, interrupting the ‘race to the bottom’ that generally characterizes sectors marked by the forces of the globalization of capital. Yet the MLC has not jeopardized the economic viability of maritime employers: MLC-compliant ships are not at a disadvantage with respect to non-compliant ships. Nor has the MLC encroached on State sovereignty: the flag State retains a central role as guarantor of MLC rights and obligations. The success of the MLC framework may soon affect fields outside its scope, such as fishing and agriculture. But the MLC was not spontaneously established, and was rather the product of a long period of evolution, and so attempts to directly transfer this successful ‘model’ to other areas may be misguided, even futile. The MLC nonetheless demonstrates the need in transnational fields for a paradigm shift from the harmonization of parallel sovereign systems to a globally integrated network involving cooperation at different levels of government within and between States.
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