Global Governance of Labour Rights
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Global Governance of Labour Rights

Assessing the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives

Edited by Axel Marx, Jan Wouters, Glenn Rayp and Laura Beke

This insightful book incorporates perspectives from several disciplines to provide a unique systematic analysis of emerging public and private initiatives in global labour rights governance. The expert contributors explore the complexities of labour rights governance in a global economy characterized by transnational supply chains. They assess how transnational, intergovernmental and private initiatives aim to address the challenges of global labour rights protection before discussing the effectiveness of these initiatives and presenting new empirical findings. The book concludes with a detailed reflection on how to strengthen the global regime of labour rights governance.
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Chapter 8: The rapprochement of ILO standards and CSR mechanisms: towards a positive understanding of the ‘privatization’ of international labour standards

Ruben Zandvliet and Paul van der Heijden


According to The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, ‘The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.’ One of the central questions in the debate about corporate social responsibility (CSR) is whether the ‘public good’ is defined by private or public actors and processes. Most definitions of CSR appear to support the former position. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), ‘CSR is a voluntary, enterprise-driven initiative and refers to activities that are considered to exceed compliance with the law’. Still, private and public regulation intersect in various ways. Critics of CSR raise two concerns in this regard. First, there is the ‘displacement hypothesis’, which holds that CSR crowds out public regulatory initiatives. By taking the initiative to codify their social commitments companies pre-empt legislation.

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