Course ObjectiveThe objective for this course is to provide a thorough understanding of
international labour law through an innovative and challenging method.
The course focusses on how international labour law (potentially) deals
with the current questions that rise in the context of increased
globalization of trade and production.
Upon completion of the course, the students will:
- have a thorough knowledge of the regulation of work and the role the
International Labour Organization (ILO) and other international and
regional organizations play in regulating work in an international
context (e.g. UN Global Compact, the Organization for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Council of Europe)
- understand the institutional and legislative framework relating to the
ILO and the other international organizations involved in the protection
of social rights;
- have a thorough understanding and knowledge of the ILO’s tripartite
structure, which seeks after an equal voice for workers, employers and
- have insight in the obligations of ILO member states and the
effectiveness of the ILO supervisory machinery;
- be able to identify and apply soft-law regulatory mechanisms in this
field, such as OECD guidelines for multinational companies, the UN
Global Compact and various instruments of Corporate Social
- have insight in diverse alternative – predominantly private – ways of
regulation, e.g. with the aim of the promotion labour law obligation and
rights and safeguarding them in the transnational setting in which
- have insight into the development of civil law litigation that is
increasingly having impact on the risk management of multinational
- be able to analyse labour law and decent work issues in the context of
different national legal systems from the perspective of international
- be able to build up a case concerning a supply chain in a
multinational company, in which both international public law and other
legal doctrines are applied with the aim to remedy violations of
fundamental labour rights and if possible compensate the
- be able to apply all the different international public legal
instruments as well as alternative private legal instruments on
specific cases, in order to be able to create an effective remedy for
human rights violations in a supply-chain.
Course ContentContext and background:
The impact of globalization of trade on labour law and the protection of
workers’ rights is potentially vast. In order to present themselves as
suitable places of establishment or production of goods and services,
countries are tempted to compete on the price of labour.
Labour law that covers all workers in the supply chain does not exist
and the regular known methods of legislating are insufficient to deal
with this issue. During this course this problem will be reviewed and
developments in this area studied.
Through a general introduction in international labour law students will
be made familiar with the institutional framework of the International
Labour Organization and the legal nature of international labour law
(from both an international and regional perspective), and various
legislative techniques, material aspects and the impact of international
labour law on the domestic legal order of the member states.
Recent developments in international labour law concerning the
application of private law doctrines such as those on liability and
tort, on violations of human rights in the supply-chain of multinational
corporations will be studied, and students will work on effective cures
and remedies including compensation. The aim of this course is that the
students will learn to work with the different legal tools that have
been developed over the years, in order to find solutions for the
problems in the application of labour law in a world where trade has
been globalized, but social justice has not.
Through the course several topics are discussed:
- the institutional framework within which international labour law has
come into existence;
- the legal nature of international labour law and the functioning of
the ILO and its supervisory mechanisms;
- the main principles of international labour law and core labour
standards concerning collective bargaining rights, prohibition of forced
and child labour, and discrimination in respect of employment and
- methods to apply international labour law in the supply-chain of
- case-law (e.g. Walmart, Adidas, Coca cola) concerning the application
of international labour law;
- alternative regulation and dispute settlement, corporate codes and
international collective bargaining;
- international trade agreements and labour clauses;
- the impact of international labour law on the national legal order.
Teaching MethodsA weekly meeting of 2 hours. Every meeting will start with a short
introduction by one of the lecturers. After this the whole group will
work on the subject of that particular week.
Throughout the whole course students will work on an individual
assignment. In this assignment an actual case concerning workers’ rights
violations in a supply-chain of a multinational company is analysed and
presented. By choice, students can hand this in in Dutch.
During the course an active involvement and participation of all
students is required. Students will accumulate the literature and other
materials to enable them to find a legal solution for their cases. Of
course also the literature and materials presented on the intranet
(Canvas) will be very useful.
Method of AssessmentIndividual paper (in English or Dutch, by choice) and mandatory
attendance. There is no written exam apart from the individual paper
that is based on the assignment which will be discussed in class, step
LiteratureTo be announced on the intranet (Canvas).
Target AudienceApart from regular students, this course is also available for:
Students from other universities and faculties;
Exchange students and Erasmus students;
Courses from a master at the faculty can only be taken as a secondary
course if you have a diploma that gives access to the relevant master/
specialization and if you are enrolled in a master.
Recommended background knowledgeExchange students: a basic knowledge of Labour/Employment Law is
|Language of Tuition||English|
|Faculty||Faculty of Law|
|Course Coordinator||prof. dr. K. Boonstra|
|Examiner||prof. dr. K. Boonstra|
prof. dr. K. Boonstra
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