Trade and International Labor Standards: Other Transnational Initiatives

Codes of Conduct  | International Social Standards | Labor Cooperation



Flecha amarillaCodes of Conduct

With regard to labor, Codes of Conduct are intended to recommend or outline issues such as compliance with labor standards, the establishment of minimum labor conditions, business ethics and fair business practices or law enforcement, among others.

The World Bank Offsite link! estimates that, at the global level, there are at least 1000 codes of conduct or guidelines that are issued by multinational companies (MNCs), NGOs, consumer groups, chambers of industry and other agencies.

At the private level, the number of multinational companies that use these codes has significantly increased both by the need to carry out their activities based on business parameters that allow it to operate transnationally without having to readapt to local conditions, and by the need for their subcontractors or suppliers and its subsidiaries to be governed under the same standards.

At the international level, some codes of conduct developed by international bodies stand out, such as the  ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) PDF and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational CompaniesPDF which despite being voluntarily adopted and enforced and lacking hierarchy in international law, are widely used by countries.

Flecha amarillaInternational social standards

International social standards, which cover issues of labor standards have been developed or are currently under development by non-governmental organizations such as Social Accountability International (SAI8000 ) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 26000 ). These standards help companies address the social dimension of their operation and may be accompanied by verification and due diligence processes for compliance. In the development of such standards, ILO conventions, working conditions or compliance with national labor law are taken into account.


arrow Labor Cooperation

Examples of Labor Cooperation Programs within the
Context of Opening to Trade or of FTAs


Donor Institution


Better Work

International Finance Corporation (IFC) - International Labor Organization (ILO)

Support enterprises in improving their labor standards based on national labor law and core ILO labor standards with the objective to help enterprises compete in global markets where many buyers require compliance with labor standards from their suppliers.

CAFTA-DR Labor Cooperation Coordination

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Provide technical cooperation as well as coordinate the donor agencies that provide cooperation in labor matters, for the implementation of the White Paper's recommendations. The White Paper contains recommendations for the improvement of labor conditions in six priority areas (labor legislation and its implementation, budget and personnel needs of the Labor Ministries,  strengthening judicial systems related to labor matters, guarantees of protection against discrimination at work, worst forms of child labor, and promoting a culture of compliance) relating to the Free Trade Agreement between Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States (CAFTA-DR)

Awareness, Capacity Building and Advocacy in the CAFTA-DR Countries

The Trust for the Americas (OAS)

1) Increase awareness and understanding among workers about their rights under existing labor laws and how to claim them; 2) Develop the internal and external capacities of the worker and employer organizations related to the compliance of labor law; 3) Strengthen the technical capacity of civil society organizations, including NGO and lawyer groups, focused on the labor area, human rights, and the promotion of public policy.

CAFTA-DR Labor Capacity Building Off site link!

U.S. Government Strengthening labor ministries and courts, promoting an overall culture of compliance, and removing or preventing children from exploitive child labor.

Working together: Labor Rights for All

U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL)

Provide advice to workers about the scope and applicability of relevant national occupational standards and when necessary, provide legal assistance to explain the procedures and required documents to exercise those rights.


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Trade and International Standards