ILO Core Labour Standards Implementation in China: Legal Architecture and Cultural Logic

  • Liukkunen, Ulla (Project manager)
  • Ruskola, Teemu Heikki Petteri (Participant)
  • Chen, Yifeng (Participant)
  • Zhang, Yihong (Participant)
  • Wei, Wei Qian (Participant)
  • Wu, Yixuan (Participant)
  • Ekhabafe, Ekpemi (Participant)
  • Neffe, Alice (Participant)
  • Mooney, Stuart (Participant)

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description (abstract)

The “ILO Core Labour Standards Implementation in China: Legal Architecture and Cultural Logic” research project examines the implementation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) core conventions in China. The Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, adopted by the member states of the ILO in 1998, provides for the prohibition of child labour, discrimination and forced labour as well as the freedom of association and collective bargaining as fundamental rights at work. China, an original member of the ILO since 1919, has ratified four out of eight ILO core conventions enshrining fundamental principles and rights at work.

China’s legal reforms have been closely related to its economic development. The first Labour Law, enacted in 1994, aimed to facilitate economic reform and transformation towards a market economy. More recent labour law reforms, leading to the adoption of three major labour laws in 2007, have reflected a growing concern with the social needs of workers as well as popular demands for the implementation of greater workplace democracy. At the same time, China’s labour law reforms stand in a dynamic relationship to international labor practices. While domestic reforms in China have facilitated the ratification of five ILO conventions since 2002, it remains a question to what extent the ILO Conventions have continued to influence the development of labour law in China and to what extent international labour standards are implemented in Chinese law and practice, especially considering China’s multi-layered administrative structure and the incentives for local governments to attract foreign investment.

The research project seeks to improve our understanding of the structural forces that influence the implementation of the ILO core conventions in China. The project analyzes the local cultural logics that inform the implementation of core labour standards and maps the roles of different actors in this process. Existing and emerging practices that can play a positive role in enforcement of law are also identified. The objective of the project is to sketch a blueprint for a Chinese legal architecture that will be able to implement the ILO core labour standards effectively. In addition to its substantive conclusion, the project will make an important contribution to comparative law methodology and theory, and to our understanding of how international legal standards are implemented at the national level.

The project is a collective effort that draws on the distinctive but complementary expertise of the team members of different fields. The project combines expertise from international law, labour law, comparative law, social anthropology and Chinese law. The project has strong international connections and cooperates with several partners in China, Europe and the US.

The team consists of five researchers, one research assistant and one coordinator.
Effective start/end date01/09/201231/08/2015


  • Unknown funder