Evolutionary Trajectories for Transnational Labour Law: Trade in Goods to Trade in Services?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence of ‘trade in services’ as opposed to ‘trade in goods’ has the potential to pose challenges for transnational labour laws. In particular, three intertwined narratives have emerged regarding the evolution of international markets and their legal regulation. The first is that trade in services is transforming contemporary labour markets. The second is that the inevitable response to that transformation is to radically revise transnational labour laws, previously established by institutions such as the International Labour Organization and European Union. The third is that, as previous international and European labour standards reflect a political accommodation largely imposed by high-income countries on others, dismantling these can aid development. When subjected to close critical attention, with reference to evolutionary and systems theory, these assumptions emerge as flawed. It is argued that increased trade in services need not lead inevitably to the decline of transnational labour law. Instead, in policy terms, we should be aware of opportunities to follow other potential trajectories, which can enhance agency of all countries and workers therein.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-271
Number of pages34
JournalCurrent Legal Problems
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventCurrent Legal Problems lecture - UCL, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Jan 201430 Jan 2014

Structured keywords

  • PolicyBristol
  • Global Political Economy


  • labour law, international trade, goods, services, International Labour Organisation, European Union


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