International labour and its emerging role in global governance: regime fusion, social protection, regional integration and production volatility
The 1999 Seattle Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) fails to reach accord, in part the result of an unresolved clash over the trade-labour standards issue. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, issues of social protection and the participation of civil society in growth models take centre stage at the intergovernmental level and in International Financial Institutions (IFIs). Labour-related issues become increasingly significant in the major models of regional integration. Elsewhere, Adidas-Salomon advertise a post as head of their Asian regional ‘standards of engagement’ programme, in charge of ensuring that plants contracting to supply Adidas-Salomon meet established International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards in their operations. What ties these disparate processes together and how do they relate to the role of labour in global governance? In simple terms, the answer is that each is a defining context in which labour transcends national boundaries and seeks to establish a role in global institutions. In combination, they provide a basis for an analytical understanding of the emergence of labour in global governance debates, and an insight into the supranational institutional frameworks open to the international labour movement.