Freedom of Association: a comparison of China and US Approaches to International Labour Organisation Standards

Clifford Donn, Minghua Zhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Freedom of association has long been viewed as the most basic of labour rights.1 This is because it represents the ability of working people to work for the improvement of their status themselves. Accordingly, it has had a unique status at the International Labour Organization (ILO). Economist Kimberly Elliott points out its special status within the ILO supervisory system:

Because it is regarded as a fundamental constitutional obligation of all members, however, complaints regarding violations of freedom of association may be brought against any member government, regardless of convention ratification status, and referred to the Committee on Freedom of Association for review.2
The fundamental principle of freedom of association corresponds to two ILO Conventions, which now belong to the eight so-called core Conventions as defined by the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work from 1998. The first is the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87). 3 It has been ratified to date by 153 countries, but neither by China nor the United States.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe ILO from Geneva to the Pacific Rim
Subtitle of host publicationWest Meets East
EditorsJill M Jensen, Nelson Lichtenstein
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-57090-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-349-57592-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameInternational Labour Organization (ILO) Century Series
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan, London


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