Series 2, No. 4 (Fall 2000): Who Can Protect Workers' Rights? The Workplace Codes of Conduct Debates


The forces of globalization are increasingly prompting concerns for low-wage workers' rights in multinational enterprises around the world. Workplace codes of conduct have been a popular response to the need to protect workers and assure consumers that their purchases are not connected to human rights abuses. However, critics charge that such codes superficially put "a human face" on exploitative capitalism or damage poor workers' chances to earn much-needed income. Particularly in the recent debates surrounding "unfettered" world trade, the welfare of local workers is hotly contested, but little has been heard from the workers themselves about their concerns. This issue of Human Rights Dialogue explores whether the design and implementation of codes of conduct actually reflects the human rights interests and priorities of those that they are designed to protect, and how such codes impact their notions of human rights. Local workers and activists suggest ways to better meet human rights needs in the global workplace.