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In the context of changing global realities, the UC Davis Journal of International Law & Policy (“JILP”) held its March 2003 Symposium, “Workers and International Economic Institutions: Challenges and Possibilities in a Global Economy.” The conference attracted a diverse array of academics, policymakers, and community activists. The participants examined the problems and possibilities that government, business, and nonprofits present for creating and maintaining labor standards in the global economy. In this introduction, the author will place each of the Symposium contributions into a framework of the choices that institutions and actors must make in deciding the best course for raising international labor standards—the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, transnational labor movements, coalitions across wealth and interest, and forums for asserting workers' rights. The author will conclude by discussing the prospects for new forums and issues in the global economy by addressing the question of how global labor norms might be enforced, and by considering the near-future prospects for a Brown v. Board of Education for international labor rights. As the contributions to the Symposium demonstrate, the challenge facing the movement toward international labor standards is to avoid being painted into a corner as “anti-globalization” forces, and searching for a more fair approach to what some see as the inevitable process of globalization.

Publication Citation

10 U.C. Davis J. Int’l L. & Pol’y 1 (2003)