Social rights and markets: Sovereignty, market building and labour law in the African Union
Professor Diamond Ashiagbor
Abstract: How can one best understand the relationship between social rights and markets? One of the key projects with which labour law is concerned relates to constraining market power; the regulatory means and institutions by which this is done have traditionally been based on and emerged from the political economy of hegemonic states of the global North. The focus of this project is to disrupt those assumptions to examine how the normative project of labour law can be realised by thinking through different institutions, which emerge from and are applicable to the global South as well as the global North. It does so by interrogating the social dimension of regional economic integration, by which is understood cooperation between states, principally in the area of trade policy, through common institutions and common rules. At the core is the question of the extent to which markets in general and trade liberalisation in particular may be embedded within, constituted by, and ameliorated through, the ‘social’, in particular by labour law and social policy. The project’s empirical focus is the European Union and the African Union, and its central thesis is that regional integration with a social dimension has the potential to engender a more equitable pattern of trade liberalisation.
Professor Diamond Ashiagbor is Professor of Labour Law at SOAS, University of London, having previously been Reader in Law at University College London. She has held visiting positions at Columbia Law School, the European University Institute in Florence, and Melbourne Law School; and has been the recipient of a US-EU Fulbright Research Award and a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship. Her main areas of research interest are labour/employment law, in particular in the context of regional integration (the European Union and the African Union); labour law, trade and development; economic sociology of law; human rights, equality and multiculturalism. She is a member of the editorial boards of Feminist Legal Studies and Current Legal Problems.