1st Edition

Labour Rights and the Catholic Church The International Labour Organisation, the Holy See and Catholic Social Teaching

By Paul Beckett Copyright 2021
    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the extent of parallelism and cross-influence between Catholic Social Teaching and the work of the world’s oldest human rights institution, the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

    Sometimes there is a mutual attraction between seeming opposites who in fact share a common goal. This book is about just such an attraction between a secular organisation born of the political desire for peace and justice, and a metaphysical institution much older founded to bring peace and justice on earth. It examines the principles evident in the teachings of the Catholic Church and in the secular philosophy of the ILO; together with the theological basis of the relevant provisions of Catholic Social Teaching and of the socio-political origins and basis of the ILO. The spectrum of labour rights covered in the book extends from the right to press for rights, i.e., collective bargaining, to rights themselves – conditions in work – and on to post-employment rights in the form of social security and pensions. The extent of the parallelism and cross-influence is reviewed from the issue of the Papal Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII Rerum Novarum (1891) and from the founding of the ILO in 1919.

    This book is intended to appeal to lay, professional and academic alike, and will be of interest to researchers and academics working in the areas of international human rights, theology, comparative philosophy, history and social and political studies.

    On 4 January 2021 it was granted an Imprimatur by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm P. McMahon O.P., meaning that the Catholic Church is satisfied that the book is free of doctrinal or moral error.

    CHAPTER 1 – Introduction

    CHAPTER 2 – Catholic Social Teaching in context

    CHAPTER 3 – Catholic Social Teaching and Labour Rights

    CHAPTER 4 - ILO – Fundamental Principles: Conventions and Recommendations

    CHAPTER 5 – The International Labour organisation – origins and Social Catholicism, 1919 to 1944

    CHAPTER 6 – The Holy See and the ILO 1946 to 2020

    CHAPTER 7 – Common Pathways

    CHAPTER 8 – Afterword


    Paul Beckett has 40 years’ experience both as an international commercial lawyer and as a human rights defender. He is a Visiting Research Fellow of Oxford Brookes University until 31 October 2024. He graduated from Worcester College, Oxford in 1978 with First Class honours in Jurisprudence. He also completed a Master of Studies in International Human Rights Law at New College, Oxford in 2014. Both a legal practitioner and an academic – a "pracademic" – he has been widely published and is often invited to take an active part in conferences, seminars and broadcasts.  Married, with two grown sons, he lives and works in the Isle of Man.

    "this well executed and timely work will provide a welcome addition to anyone working in the field of labour relations, but also readers who wish to explore the way in which the Roman Catholic Church interacts with secular legal and political frameworks, especially in contexts which do not necessarily routinely grab headlines. The author has done an excellent job of presenting more than enough subtlety, originality and detail to satisfy experts in these areas, but has also produced a resource which non-specialists can positively engage with. I would highly commend this addition to the existing scholarship in this area."

    Oscar Celador, Law and Justice, 187 (December 2021)

    "[this book] provides a genuinely new and insightful contribution to our existing knowledge. It sheds new light on a neglected area of inquiry. In so doing, it invites the reader to reflect further on the interplay of faith and labour. … In summary, Paul Beckett’s fascinating book reveals an ethical and institutional relationship between the ILO and the Catholic Church. He sustains his argument that their links, both historical and contemporary, are neglected in much of the existing literature. … More broadly, this original book illustrates the importance of labour law scholarship engaging with all dimensions to the relationship between religion and the workplace."

    Professor Mark Bell, Industrial Law Journal, XXXX

    "In this challenging book, Paul Beckett… provides detailed documentation for the parallelism and cross-influence between the ILO and the Holy See on behalf of workers’ rights. As a careful lawyer and perceptive scholar, he presents convincing evidence that proves his case."

    Joe Holland, (2023): Labour Rights and the Catholic Church: The International Labour Organization, the Holy See, and Catholic Social Teaching, Labor History, DOI: 10.1080/0023656X.2023.2210858