A Public Law Perspective on Labour Governance by International Financial Institutions

The Case of the IMF’s Article IV Consultations

In: International Organizations Law Review
Franz Christian Ebert Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany,

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Over the last decades, international financial institutions (‘IFIs’) such as the International Monetary Fund (‘IMF’) or the World Bank have emerged as important actors in the area of labour governance. While the conditionality attached to IFI lending programmes is of particular importance in this regard, labour governance by IFIs transcends these well-known mechanisms. Through a variety of other governance instruments IFIs influence labour standards in their members’ territories far beyond the countries that are recipients of their financial support. This paper sheds light on the so far under-researched IMF Article IV Consultations by analysing how they impact labour standards at the domestic level. After providing an overview of the origins, scope, and the procedure of the Article IV Consultations, the paper shows that these have sometimes advocated far-reaching labour law reforms. The paper then employs the International Public Authority approach to better understand the legitimacy concerns created by these Consultations in terms of labour governance. With a view to addressing these concerns, the paper discusses avenues to strengthen the legal framework for the IMF’s Article IV Consultations in substantive and procedural terms.

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