International organizations mandated to govern social rights are colliding with international organizations mandated to govern economic development. While disagreeing over the nature of overlap and conflict across international organizations, legal and social science scholars offer various proposals to unify global governance. Those proposals assume that unification will come naturally. That assumption is wrong.
The distinct legal instruments that govern international organizations render conflict inevitable and unification more challenging than commonly believed. By closely examining the pandemic-related activities carried out by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the same forty-one countries, the implications of that conflict become clearer. Governments must choose between competing approaches and activities to the detriment of coherence, national policies, and organizational legitimacy. To protect against those perils, international organizations must cooperate on an in-country basis, which would allow them to negotiate over conflicting policies while respecting their diverse mandates and government constituencies.
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Desirée LeClercq is an Assistant Professor of International Labor Law, Cornell ILR School & Associate Member of the Law Faculty, Cornell Law School