Advancing Social Justice

ILR's Compa delivers inaugural lecture at Leiden Law School
ILR's Compa delivers inaugural lecture at Leiden Law School
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ILR professor Lance Compa delivered his inaugural lecture Monday as the first holder of the Paul van der Heijden Chair in Social Justice at Leiden Law School.

Compa is visiting the Dutch law school during the fall semester after accepting the position in May.

The Leiden Law faculty established the new visiting professorship to honor Professor Paul van der Heijden, former president of Leiden University.

Professor van der Heijden is chairman of the International Labor Organization's Committee on Freedom of Association, the authoritative world body on trade union organizing and collective bargaining rights.

Compa, in his first Leiden lecture "Re-Planting a Field: International Labor Law for the Twenty-First Century," described new directions in the international labor law field in response to new forms of globalization.

He cited especially the growth of global supply chain systems linking brand names companies in the United States and Europe with thousands of subcontractor factories around the globe.

Compa reviewed complaints and cases arising via:

  • labor clauses in trade laws and free trade agreements
  • guidelines of the United Nations and other international organizations
  • corporate social responsibility initiatives
  • lawsuits filed in U.S. courts on behalf of workers in other countries victimized by abusive labor practices.

The aftermath of the April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 workers was a focus of his discussion.

Compa's inaugural lecture was also his first class for 60 Leiden Law School students in a labor law master's program. Compa is co-teaching the course with van der Heijden, who rejoined the law school faculty after serving as president of the university.

Compa told the students that "international labor law presents exciting work opportunities for a growing community of lawyers trying to advance the same cause embodied in the 'social justice' title of the Paul van der Heijden Chair." He added, "For students here who become enthusiastic about the field, I invite you to join us."

Compa will be back at ILR in the spring 2015 semester to resume teaching international labor law to Cornell juniors, seniors and graduate students. He will also teach U.S. labor and employment law for students in the MILR program.

The full text of Compa's talk is here (pdf).