ILO launches new online database on trade agreements that include labour provisions

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has launched a new global database on trade agreements containing labour provisions, paving the way for a more human-centred approach to trade policy.

Aimed at policymakers, technical experts, and representatives of workers, employers and civil society, the Labour Provisions in Trade Agreements Hub  (LP Hub) offers a comprehensive, structured compilation of the text of labour provisions in more than 100 regional trade agreements (RTAs) in about 140 economies.

Labour provisions are obligations in trade agreements to protect and advance workers’ rights, including through different forms of cooperation and dialogue between trade unions, business organizations and the general public. Around half of trade agreements concluded in the last decade (2011-2020), contained labour provisions, compared to only 22 per cent in the previous decade (2001-2010).

The launch of the database follows increasing requests from governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations for a central data source for information, research, and comparative legal analysis.

Users will be able to navigate and analyse labour provisions across trade partners and over time, visualize data and trends, search for specific terms and download relevant information.

A key feature is the classification of labour provisions into categories, which allows users to locate key terms quickly and accurately within and across agreements.

By classifying labour provisions in RTAs the Hub helps users to:

  • gain a better understanding of the latest advances in the design and implementation of labour provisions;
  • deepen knowledge of specific templates and make comparisons across trade partners and regions;
  • acquire insights into stakeholder involvement, especially on the part of workers’ and employers’ and civil society representatives; and
  • monitor trends in labour provisions, globally and regionally.

The ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work  (2019) calls for countries to place decent work as a central objective of trade policy and for trade to support sustainable development and social justice, in line with the goal of creating a human-centred recovery from the pandemic.

“The LP Hub will help to promote more inclusive trade through an understanding of emerging areas of labour provisions such as forced labour, racial and ethnic equality, and gender in the context of trade, as well as labour-related provisions connected to the broad field of the future of trade, covering environment and technology,” said Martha Newton, the ILO’s Deputy Director-General for Policy.

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