Labor Rights, Globalization and Institutions: The Role and Influence of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

This Article has four sections. The first recounts the history of the OECD, from its creation as the overseer of the Marshall Plan to its current prominence as global economic analyst, and explains its operations. The second section explores its influence on the development of labor rights, examining the well-known OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, publications on trade and labor by the Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Directorate, and the events surrounding South Korea’s accession to the OECD. Each of these activities, though quite different from one another (and, in combination, very different from the activities of other IGOs), provided important spurs to the articulation and development of core labor rights. Part III presents a detailed case study of the failed negotiations at the OECD over the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). The case study provides insight both into an important event in the march toward globalization and into the role the OECD can meaningfully play in formally linking trade and labor rights.