International Labour Standards for African Supreme Courts
International labour standards adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) are important tools for the development of national legislation. However, the contribution of international labour law is not limited to its impact on labour legislation; international labour standards are also a highly valuable resource for domestic judges to settle labour disputes. Moreover, upon ratification of international Conventions by ILO Member States, judiciaries have an important role to play in parallel to governments in ensuring their country’s international obligations are respected.
Domestic courts worldwide, including Supreme Courts, are increasingly drawing not only on international labour Conventions and Recommendations, but also on the work of the ILO’s supervisory bodies, to interpret and complement their own domestic law. Regional and international forums that bring together judiciaries from different countries have emerged to exchange views and adopt common principles.
Following this path and taking into account the decisive role Supreme Courts play in developing labour law jurisprudence and promoting social justice, the Centre with the ILO Regional Office for Africa, the ILO/Lusaka Office and the ILO International Labour Standards Department, organized a symposium on International Labour Standards for African Supreme Courts in Livingstone, Zambia, on 14-18 October.
The symposium was attended by seventeen high-level judges, fourteen of whom were from Supreme Courts. Besides the ILO and Centre’s resource persons, a member of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations took part as resource persons.
This was the first event of this kind ever organized where judges from Supreme Courts all over Africa, representing different legal systems, convened to examine the use of international labour law sources to settle labour disputes at the national level.
The symposium also provided a forum for cross-fertilizing exchanges of views and experiences across the continent and formulating ideas on how to strengthen the judicial use of international labour standards in Africa.