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Apr 12 - 13, 2024

Conference on Transnational Labor Rights in a Globalized Economy

Join us in Ithaca to discuss the challenges to workers’ power posed by global supply chains and trade agreements, and the tools devised to address them, including new international instruments and global movements.

When & Where

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Date & Time

Apr 12 - 13, 2024
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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April 12, 8:45 AM-6:00 PM: 423 ILR Conference Center, 140 Garden Avenue
April 13, 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM: 105 Ives Hall, ILR School
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States


This conference brings together labor activists, organizers, legal experts, and scholars to discuss how workers may build their power in a contemporary climate of liberalized trade, increasing interconnectivity, and global supply chains. Hear about efforts to advance an ILO standard on decent work in global supply chains, and learn about real-world developments from labor organizers in the Global south.

Conference Co-Organizers: Desirée LeClercq (Cornell University) and Hila Shamir (Tel Aviv University)

April 12| Day 1 Agenda
8:45 AM

Coffee and Networking

9:15-10:30 AM

Opening Keynote: Transnational Labor Law as a Spiderweb: Is there a spider? Is there a web?
Guy Mundlak (keynote) Desiree LeClercq (discussant)

10:30-10:45 AM

Coffee Break/Snacks

10:45 AM-12:15 PM

Strengthening Worker Agency Along Global Supply Chains
Hila Shamir, Chandan Kumar, Jeff Vogt

12:15-1:15 PM


1:15-2:45 PM

Gender and Workers’ Rights in Supply Chains
Judy Fudge, Inga Thiemann, Yiran Zhang

2:45-3 PM

Coffee Break/Snacks

3-4:45 PM

Challenges and Potentialities for Collective Worker Voices: Global Transport Workers
Ruwan Subasinghe, Nelson Dragsbaek, Jason Judd, Desiree LeClercq

5-6 PM


April 13| Day 2 Agenda
8 am

Coffee and Networking

8:30-10 am

ILO Draft Instrument: Decent Work in Supply Chains - Workshop
Ingrid Landau, Jim Brudney, Angela Cornell (discussant)

10- 10:15 AM

Coffee Break

10:15 AM-12 PM

Labor Rights in Trade and Migration
Kevin Kolben, Janice Bellace, Janie Chuang, Chantal Thomas

12:15-2 PM

Lunch Roundtable with Global South Activists
Kalpona Akter, Cirila Quintero Ramírez, and Lívia Miraglia


  • American Society of International Law
  • Cornell ILR Global Labor Institute
  • Cornell International Law Journal
  • Frank W. Pierce Memorial Fund
  • Cornell Law School Tel Aviv University Exchange Initiative
  • Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies


Kalpona Akter

Kalpona Akter is a founding member and president of the Bangladesh Garment & lndustrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). She also is founding member and Executive Director for Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity-BCWS. Ms. Akter is a former child labor in Bangladesh’s garment factories, where she began working at the age of 12. Her advocacy work centers on fair wages, safe work places, and the free to exercise freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. The government and factory owners have targeted her for this work, including trumping-up charges against her organization, putting her in prison and forcing government de-registration of the group. International pressure of partner organizations has forced them to reverse course. But dangers persist. ln 2012, unknown assailants abducted, tortured, and killed Ms. Akter's colleague, labor union organizer Aminul lslam. Despite these challenges Ms. Akter remains a critical voice for Bangladeshi (RMG focusing) workers and a voice of production country workers. Human Rights Watch honors Kalpona Akter’s dedication to championing the rights of working women, and all workers in Bangladesh’s garment factories. She has received The Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism in 2016.

Janice Bellace

Labor Clauses in Trade Agreements: Confronting the Reality

Janice Bellace is the Samuel Blank Professor Emerita of Legal Studies, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. Professor Bellace’s research interests are in the field of labor and employment law, both domestic and international. She is currently a judge and vice president of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal. In July 2020 she was appointed as one of the U.S. national panelists for the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism under the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Previously, Professor Bellace was a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts from 1995-2010, and served as president of the International Labor and Employment Relations Association. She is past president and a Fellow of the United States Labor and Employment Relations Association.

James Brudney

Voice, Prevention, Remedy: Key Elements in a proposed Global Supply Chains Convention

James Brudney is the Joseph Crowley Chair in Labor and Employment Law at Fordham Law School. He joined the Fordham faculty from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, where he was Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law. Following graduation from law school, Professor Brudney clerked for the Honorable Gerhard A. Gesell of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. and then for Justice Harry A Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court. Professor Brudney served for six years as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor. He has been Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown Law Center and Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. At Fordham, Professor Brudney teaches Labor Law, International Labor Law, Employment Law, and Legislation & Regulation. His scholarly writing is in the areas of workplace law and statutory interpretation. Professor Brudney is co-chair of the Public Review Board for the United Auto Workers International Union, and is a member of the ILO’s Committee of Experts.

Janie Chuang

For Protection or For Profit? Privatizing Global Labor Migration Governance

Janie Chuang is a Professor of Law who teaches and writes in the areas of international law, human trafficking and labor migration. Drawing on her expertise on human trafficking issues, Professor Chuang has served as an adviser to the United Nations, the ILO, and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Professor Chuang has also served in leadership positions with the American Society of International Law and the International Law Association. Professor Chuang was a 2011-2012 Open Society Foundations Fellow. Prior to joining AUWCL, Chuang practiced with the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, representing foreign governments in international litigation/arbitration and pro bono clients in asylum and human rights cases.

Angela B. Cornell

Panel Moderator

Angela B. Cornell is a Clinical Professor at Cornell Law School where she teaches labor law and is the founding director of the Labor Law Clinic, which is committed to providing legal representation that advances workers’ freedom of association. Her teaching, practice and scholarship focus on domestic and international labor law as well as business and human rights. Before joining the faculty in 2005, she was a partner in a union-side labor and employment law firm and served as Labor Commissioner in the State of New Mexico.

Nelson Dragsbaek

Stumbling blocks of solidarity and global maritime industries

Nelson Dragsbaek is a labor activist and a master’s student from Houston, Texas. He previously worked in refugee resettlement and community organizing for housing justice. He is currently exploring how maritime workers unions can further the goal of building worker power and coordination across borders.

Judy Fudge

Worker-Driven Social Responsibility in Global Garment Chains: Resisting Gender-Based Violence

Judy Fudge is the LIUNA Enrico Henry Mancinelli Chair of Global Labour Issues at McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She takes a socio-legal approach to studying work and labour and has published extensively on employment and labour law from a range of critical perspectives. She is currently leading a project that investigates transnational forms of legal regulation designed to eliminate exploitation in global supply chains: see Governing Forced Labour in Chains at

Jason Judd

Bargain hunting in a seller’s market: why does global bargaining elude apparel workers?

Jason Judd is the Executive Director of the Cornell Global Labor Institute (GLI) in the ILR School. He previously led the Ship to Shore Rights Project at the ILO (Bangkok), and served as Vice President of the Fair Labor Association in Washington, DC, where he directed all accountability programs including the FLA's Fair Compensation work. Jason is an expert on economic policy and global labor rights who has worked in senior roles for the ILO's Better Factories Cambodia, Demos (New York), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the AFL-CIO, the Solidarity Center, and the Industrial Areas Foundation. He is a former Fulbright Fellow, and a graduate of Duke University and l'École Nationale d’Administration (ENA/RULE).

Kevin Kolben

Labor Governance and Supply Chain Resilience

Kevin Kolben is a professor at Rutgers Business School and is a recognized expert on transnational labor regulation and labor governance in supply chains. He has been a visiting professor at the Buchmann Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University, and a visiting senior fellow at the University of Melbourne Law School. In addition to his academic work, he also regularly consults with various governmental and non-governmental organizations such as the ILO, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He currently is serving a two-year appointment to the Federal Advisory Committee for Labor Provisions of Trade Agreements in the United States Department of Labor.

Chandan Kumar

Organizing workers in the era of supply chain capitalism: Challenges, opportunities and remedies

Mr. Kumar is coordinator of the Working Peoples' Charter, a network of 162 worker organizations representing almost each and every sector of the informal economy of india. He is member of National Minimum Wage Advisory Board ( a statutory committee of Indian Government) and NHRC Core Group on Bonded Labour (a quasi judicial body of Indian Government). He has been part of numerous labour policy formulations on national and international level, such as Gig and platform workers, construction workers, bonded labour, migrant workers, domestic workers on provincial and union level. He is also campaign coordinator for Social Justice cluster of Asia Europe Peoples Forum and member of International Lawyers Assisting Workers Network (ILAW).

Desirée LeClercq

Gender Equity and Violence at Sea

Professor LeClercq is an Assistant Professor at the Cornell ILR School and associate member of the faculty at Cornell Law School. Her research and teaching explore the intersection of international and national labor laws, international economic law, and geopolitics. She previously worked as a Director for Labor Affairs at the U.S. Trade Representative, as a lawyer for the International Labor Organization, and as staff attorney to the Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. She joins the faculty at the University of Georgia School of Law in the Fall 2024.

Ingrid Landau

(co-presenter with Shelley Marshall) A new Convention on Decent Work in Supply Chains? Beyond human rights due diligence

Ingrid Landau is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Business Law and Taxation at Monash Business School, and a member of the Labour, Equality and Human Rights (LEAH) Research Group. She researches and teaches in the areas of employment law, comparative and transnational labour regulation, and business and human rights, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific. She also regularly undertakes consultancies for the ILO. Prior to entering academia, she worked in the legal department of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Her latest book, Human Rights Due Diligence and Labour Governance, was published by Oxford University Press in 2023.

Lívia Miraglia

Lívia Miraglia is the Director of the Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic at UFMG (SLHTC) and President of the Antislavery Commission of the Minas Gerais Bar Association. As a director of SLHTC, since 2015, Dr. Mirigalia has provided free legal consultations to over 250 victims of human trafficking and slave labor and filed over 90 labor lawsuits. As a result of SLHTC’s partnership with the Brazilian Ministry of Labor, she has participated in seven investigations into suspected slave labor in Minas Gerais. She has also actively participated in public audiences held by the State and National Congress to talk about public policies and the political agenda of modern slavery in Brazil, acting as an invited member of the Minas Gerais (COMITRATE) and the National Committees (CONATRAE) of Slave Labor and Human Trafficking. Dr. Miraglia is an Associate Professor at the Law School of the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

Guy Mundlak

Transnational Labor Law as a Spiderweb: is there a spider? Is there a web?

Guy Mundlak, Tel Aviv University, holds a joint appointment in the Faculty of Law and in the Department of Labor Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences (Chair 2019- present). His research deals with the impact of law on the labor market and the welfare state. More particularly his current work centers on the following themes: The relationship between labor law and industrial relations; The internalization of employment standards in economic enterprises and the role of human resource professionals in this process; And finally, bringing him into the current workshop - he teaches and studies the effects of globalization on labor markets, and the efficacy of international instruments in responding to the regulatory deficit.

Cirila Quintero Ramírez

Cirila Quintero Ramírez works with grassroots unions and workers in Mexico. She holds one of the highest research rankings in Mexico’s National System of Researchers (Sistema Nacional de Investigadores de Mexico). Her areas of research are unions, gender, and migration in Mexico. Her most recent book is Workers, Unions and activists on North of Mexico (in Spanish). Dr. Ramírez is a full-time Professor and Researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Border Studies Institute), Matamoros campus. She has been a Visiting Professor at York University (Canada); Gothenburg University (Sweden); Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), University of New Brunswick (Canada) and Columbia University in USA. Her current research focuses on the history of the Mexican maquiladora from the view of women workers. She is also working with Professor LeClercq and the Global Labor Institute under the CAROW project to study the effects of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement on workers in the Mexican auto sector.

Hila Shamir

A new Labor law for supply chain capitalism

Hila Shamir is a Professor at Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law and Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School for the Spring of 2024. She is an expert in the fields of Employment, Labor, Immigration, and Welfare Law with a focus on issues of workers in global value chains, human trafficking, and gender equality. Dr. Shamir received an European Research Council (ERC) grant to pursue research on a Labor Approach to Human Trafficking (TraffLab, 2018-2023). Her research was a finalist for the ERC Public Engagement with Research Award 2022. She then received a second ERC grant to explore “A New Labor Law for Supply Chain Capitalism” (Sept 2024- Sept. 2029). She is currently working on a forthcoming edited volume, to be published with Cambridge University Press, on “Modern Slavery and Global Value Chains” (Forthcoming 2024).

Ruwan Subasinghe

Essential but Invisible: maritime capitalism and the fight for seafarers’ rights: Exploring industrial and legal responses to labour exploitation in the flags of convenience system

Ruwan Subasinghe is Legal Director at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), a global trade union body representing over 18.5 million workers in 147 countries. He specializes in international labor and human rights law. Ruwan represents the ITF at external bodies, including ILO and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He is frequently called up as an expert on international labour standards and regularly guest lectures at law schools. Ruwan sits on the Advisory Boards of the International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) Network and Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute. He is also a Board member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). Prior to joining the ITF, Ruwan practiced at an international law firm based in London.

Inga Thiemann

Alternate supply chains and the supply of embodied labour: the health and care sector in the United Kingdom

Dr. Thiemann is an Associate Professor in Law at the University of Leicester, UK. Her research interests are at the intersections of employment law, criminal law, migration law, discrimination law and feminist theory, as well as socio-legal and feminist methodologies. Her main interests are marginalised workers, feminised sectors of work and in issues of gender and migration, as well as broader equality concerns. She is the PI for an UK AHRC project on the experiences of migrant workers in the UK’s agriculture and care sectors.

Chantal Thomas

The New 'Inclusive Trade' Framework

Professor Thomas researches and writes in international law focusing on international law and political economy, focusing on questions of global social justice. She has consulted for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Trade Representative, and the World Bank, and has advised the Trade Counsel’s office for the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives. She serves on the United States Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law, and has served as a Vice President, Counsellor, and Executive Council Member of the American Society of International Law. She serves on the boards of the American Journal of International Law and the Journal of International Economic Law. Professor Thomas also serves on the Roster of Experts for Binational Panel Dispute Settlement, United States – Canada – Mexico (USMCA) Agreement. She is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Jeffrey Vogt

Global Regulation of Decent Work in Global Supply Chains: Can the ILO Meet the Challenge?

Jeffrey Vogt is the Rule of Law director of the Solidarity Center and co-founder of the International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) Network. In 2022, Mr. Vogt was appointed to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Governing Body as the US worker representative and serves on the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. From 2011 through 2016, he was the Legal Director of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Before joining the ITUC in 2011, he served as the Deputy Director of the AFL-CIO's International Department and, previously, as its Global Economic Policy Specialist. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School, where he earned his J.D. and L.L.M. in international and comparative law, and studied international law at the University of Paris I–Sorbonne.

Yiran Zhang

Gender, Household, and Social Reproduction in Value-Chain Upgrading: The Case of a Garment Town in China

Dr. Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Labor and Employment Law at Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations School. Her scholarship examines the governance of care work at the intersection of the often-informal labor markets, the welfare state, and the economic household. Her research studies the public care system in the US as well as informality and migrant workers' workplace strategies in China. Dr. Zhang has received an S.J.D. and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and an LL.B. from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.