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International Labor Rights Forum

Identifier: LAC0019

Scope and Contents

The collections consists of reports, correspondenece, legislative materials and publications pertaining to the work of the ILRF in monitoring U.S. trade agreements for maintenance of positive labor relations and workers' rights in the countries of U.S. trading partners.


  • Creation: 1986-2016

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

The International Labor Rights Forum is a human rights organization dedicated to advocating for labor rights worldwide. The ILRF works with trade unions, local community groups, and faith-based organizations to support workers. The IRLF strives to hold international corporations accountable for labor rights violations, advance policies that benefit and protect workers’ rights, and assist in strengthening worker self-advocacy. Some of the main issues the ILRF focuses on include child labor, forced labor, health and safety, women’s rights, precarious work, living wage, migrant labor, and the right to organize and bargain. In the early 1980’s concerned activists formed a coalition to fight for the rights of workers in international trade. In 1984, the coalition succeeded in securing the first labor rights clause in the Generalized System of Preferences. This labor rights clause would connect US trade and investment benefits to the respect of labor rights in other countries. In 1986, the coalition launched the International Labor Rights Forum to monitor the enforcement of international labor laws. The ILRF has leD and supported a number of initiatives such AS improving factory safety in Bangladesh, stopping the exploitation of children in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan, increasing the income of farm workers in the cocoa fields of West Africa, developing labor law clinics in China, advocating for increased labor rights provisions in US legislation, improving the conditions of seafood workers in Thailand, promoting fair labor principles in the palm oil industry, and supporting threatened union leaders in Latin America’s banana sector. In 1990, the ILRF formed the Alliance for Responsible Trade with allied North American advocacy groups to demand transparency and labor rights provisions in NAFTA. In 1994, the ILRF founded RugMark (now GoodWeave International), a nonprofit organization that has moved over 3,000 children out of the carpet industry and provided them with education. In 2010, ILRF merged with SweatFree Communities and founded the SweatFree Purchasing Consortium, which incorporated labor rights into city and state procurement policies. In 2013, U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project became part of the ILRF. The U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) advocates for fundamental changes to U.S. trade policies, demands corporate responsibility, denounces violence against trade unionists, and campaigns for worker justice in agro-export industries in Latin America.


55.5 Linear Feet (37 record cartons)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of materials relating to the ILRF's work in monitoring the labor components of American trade agreements with other countries. Materials include reports, legislation, correspondence and publications pertaining to labor relations and workers' rights in the countries of trading partners.


The collection is arranged in eleven series: country files, GSP general files, reports, US government files, subject files, financial files, donor files, International Labor Organization files, campaign research, miscellaneous files, and audiovisual files.

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by the Internatioanl Labor Rights Forum in December 2016.



Guide to the International Labor Rights Forum Archive, 1986-2016
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

George Washington University Gelman Library
2130 H Street NW
Washington DC 20052 United States of America