New Governance of the Transnational Variety: Can Transnational Domestic Labor Regulation Harness the Power of Private Legal Regulation?

David J. Doorey, In Defense of Transnational Domestic Labor Regulation, 43 Vand. J. Transnat'l L. 953 (2010), available at SSRN. Paul M. Secunda In his new paper, In Defense of Transnational Domestic Labor Regulation, Professor David Doorey has written a meticulously footnoted and researched article on an important issue that is increasingly facing modern democratic economies: to what extent should such countries seek to use their influence to improve labor practices in economically-developing countries? As Doorey explains, the answer is not as simple as merely deciding you want a labor side agreement to the latest free trade agreement. No, in addition to more formal legislative enactments, Doorey thoroughly explains the developing trend of using techniques which exist outside of formal state action, but nevertheless serve to influence and regulate working conditions and employer-employee relationships in third-world countries. Examples of this "de-centered legal orientation" range from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) monitoring and investigating multi-national corporations (MNCs), industry-led initiatives seeking to eliminate sweatshops, and consumer boycotts of MNCs that employ abusive labor practices. Doorey explains that these types of non-state activities are here to stay and the central issue is whether these informal practices can be put to good use to advance progressive labor policies in third-world countries. The topic is complex and Doorey should be congratulated for bringing his impressive transnational labor law knowledge to bear on this area of law. It is certainly a must-read paper for anyone who is seriously engaged with workplace issues in the global economy. For instance, Doorey exhaustively reviews the literature in favor of, and against, using legislation that harnesses the power of these more informal practices to push foreign third-world countries to develop more worker-friendly labor policy in their countries. Nevertheless, one is left with at least two compelling questions after reading this thoughtful paper: (1) Will the more informal, new governance-influenced practices which Doorey seeks to harness really lead to the necessary workplace changes that workers' rights advocates seek in developing countries?; and (2) Given the troubling labor situation in "developed" countries, should such countries not focus more on their own shortcomings when it comes to workers' rights in order to gain more credibility with nations around the world? Continue reading "New Governance of the Transnational Variety: Can Transnational Domestic Labor Regulation Harness the Power of Private Legal Regulation?"

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