Advocacy to reform international law enforcement


International organizations such as those governing maritime law – the International Maritime Organization and the International Labor Organization – do not have their own enforcement bodies and instead outsource enforcement to their member states.

During the pandemic, however, these member states failed to follow and apply ILO rules, harming hundreds of thousands of seafarers.

In his article “Outsourcing of the application, to appear in the Virginia Journal of International Law, Desiree LeClercq “uncovers the state-centric drawbacks of app outsourcing, including political allegiances, power imbalances and market priorities.”

She writes: “The implications of outsourced enforcement are far-reaching and the stakes for compliance are high, especially given the concurrent attempts to establish similar outsourced enforcement systems in new international instruments. “

Using international maritime labor law as a case study, LeClercq describes how states were able to ignore their international legal commitments during the pandemic and refuse to uphold basic labor rights, harming 600,000 seafarers.

“The pandemic has exposed flaws in the system of outsourced enforcement of international law to states,” LeClercq wrote. “States are both members and subjects of international organizations. When the calculation of state compliance changes or national interests intervene, states, as law enforcement authorities, either refuse to apply international law or do so in accordance with national interests and interpretations.

LeClercq, Proskauer’s assistant professor of employment and labor law proposes a new theory of outsourced enforcement – in particular, a theory based on adjudicative bodies, housed in the international organizations themselves, responsible for the creation and interpretation of international law and capable of issuing binding execution directives.

Member States have created international organizations and have a vested interest in the success of international legal regimes, ”said LeClercq. “It is therefore both possible and necessary for these States to create international jurisdictional bodies to achieve the organizational mission. “

The story originally appeared on the ILR website.
Julie Greco is a communication specialist at ILR school.


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