Decent and sustainable work for the future? The ILO future of work centenary initiative, the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and the evolution of the meaning of work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The meaning of work for individuals and society is evolving and is increasingly linked to sustainability challenges on a global level. For paid work to be meaningful, it has to be ‘decent work’, which has become a central principle in international labor and human rights law. This concept of decent work is an important component of high-profile international initiatives that chart the pathways towards a sustainable future. This Article analyzes and clarifies the evolving meaning of decent work as one of the main objectives of the international labor and human rights discourses and illustrates the increasingly closer connection between decent work and global sustainability instruments and challenges.

The United Nations (“UN”) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development incorporates decent work as a central theme of its social pillar. The recently adopted International Labour Organization (“ILO”) Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work further emphasizes the close relation between decent work and sustainability requirements. To get to a more comprehensive understanding of the evolving meaning of ‘decent and sustainable work’, this concept is examined from both a labor law perspective and a human rights law viewpoint. These overlapping but not identical vantage points show that both societal and environmental elements supplement traditional individualized values of work as personal remuneration and fair working conditions. This way, decent work is re-conceptualized to assist in addressing the challenges of creating a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable future. By tracing the development of decent work and related fundamental labor standards in international human rights law and by inquiring into the core values attached to work from a labor law perspective, we aim to contribute to a better understanding of the deep transition the meaning of work is undergoing, in particular concerning its increasingly closer relation to sustainability challenges. While the modern understanding of decent work for all is firmly embedded in the global sustainability framework, it is argued that in the dynamics of the contemporary globalized economy, it remains important to safeguard its goal of inclusiveness to guarantee a ‘human-centred approach’ in which no vulnerable groups fall outside its scope of protection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-358
Number of pages42
JournalUCLA Journal Of International Law And Foreign Affairs
Volume24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Human Rights
  • Labour Law
  • International Law
  • International Labour Organization
  • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • WORK
  • EMPLOYMENT

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Decent and sustainable work for the future? The ILO future of work centenary initiative, the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and the evolution of the meaning of work'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this