The inclusion of employment issues into international investment agreements (IIAs) is a relatively new phenomenon. On the other hand, the development of international labour standards has a long pedigree dating back to the establishment of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1919.
The main issues considered in this paper are those specifically developed in international instruments in relation to transnational corporations (TNCs). The most important of these instruments are the 1977 ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (the ILO Tripartite Declaration) and the Chapter on Employment and Industrial Relations of the 1976 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines on Investment and Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines) - which is part of a broader set of guidelines.
Following what these instruments cover, the main issues concern:
general employment (including employment promotion, equality of opportunity and treatment, and security of employment), as well as human resources development;
conditions of work and life; and
industrial relations practices.
In addition a category of emerging issues is covered, namely issues related to core labour standards and efforts to reflect these in international agreements through a "workers’ rights" or "social" clause.
Many of the issues discussed in this paper are also dealt with in instruments other than those mentioned in this paper, however, these other instruments are not discussed in this paper as its focus is on issues specifically concerning TNCs.