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A Challenging Ménage à Trois?

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Tripartism in the International Labour Organization

This article explores one of the features of the International Labour Organization (‘ILO’) – tripartism, or in other words, the fact that it is an institution that brings together representatives of Governments, Employers and Workers – in the light of recent events that have threatened the Organization’s smooth functioning. Disagreement within the ILO supervisory bodies has revealed the changing balance of power between Employers and Workers, and potentially signals a need to rethink the basis of tripartism. At the same time, however, tripartism is a fundamental feature of the ILO, one that sets it apart from other international bodies, and is essential to both the organization’s mission and the generation of international labour law. This article re-visits the notion of tripartism, examines the problems that its practice within the ILO raises as well as the significance of the current crisis and its possible impact for the ILO and international labour law.

Affiliations: 1: Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow, School of Law, University of Glasgow, UK,


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