Strong in economics, but negligent on international labour standards
Social justice should be the commanding principle of German foreign policy. Germany as a rich country should set a good example and must finally ratify the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the minimum wage, protection against unfair dismissal, and maternity protection. In a nutshell: We ourselves must also fulfil the standards to which we hold others.
We need German foreign policy that works for and with the majority of people – not the financial interests of a few.
The ILO Declaration of Philadelphia (1944) established social justice as a cornerstone of the international legal order. The Declaration states that “lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice” and that “labour is not a commodity”. In the Declaration of Philadelphia, economic and financial policies are tools that must be used in the service of people and of the goal of social justice. But the ongoing process of globalisation and the dissolution of borders between markets have been moving in the opposite direction for years.
The free movement of capital, goods and services has supplanted the goal of social justice. This has to change. We need German foreign policy that works for and with the majority of people – not the financial interests of a few.
Employment is the pivotal element in the lives of the vast majority of people around the world. This perspective should also shape German foreign policy: we need a foreign policy that embraces the goal of creating productive full employment and decent work for all people.
International labour standards are an important instrument in the pursuit of this goal. But we ourselves must also fulfil the expectations to which we hold others. Rich countries such as Germany must set a good example. Germany must finally ratify the ILO conventions on the minimum wage, protection against unfair dismissal and maternity protection.
The enforcement of international workers’ rights needs to be one of the guiding principles of German foreign policy, development policy and policy on Europe. Of course, the enforcement and observance of these rights within Germany is part and parcel of credible international engagement in this area. And this gives rise not only to a political commitment, but also to a benchmark for good business management.
We want German companies abroad to not only produce high quality products, but also become the global market leader in good labour conditions. Across their whole production chains, we want the German companies that are so successful in their business abroad to abide by the standards that German trade unions have fought to achieve for their own country.
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