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The North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation

The North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) was signed on September 14, 1993, by the Presidents of Mexico and the United States, and the Prime Minister of Canada, as one of the supplementary accords to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It entered into force on January 1, 1994.

The NAALC was the first international agreement on labor to be linked to an international trade agreement. It provides a mechanism for member countries to ensure the effective enforcement of existing and future domestic labor standards and laws without interfering in the sovereign functioning of the different national labor systems, an approach that made it novel and unique. Likewise, the Commission for Labor Cooperation is the only international body since the founding of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1919, to be devoted exclusively to labor rights and labor-related matters.

Along with its companion agreement on environmental cooperation, the NAALC adds a social dimension to NAFTA. Through the NAALC, the regional trading partners seek to improve working conditions and living standards, and to protect, enhance and enforce basic workers' rights. To accomplish these goals the NAALC establishes a set of Objectives, Obligations and Labor Principles that all Parties are committed to promote; it also creates mechanisms for cooperative activities and intergovernmental consultations, as well as for independent evaluations and dispute settlement related to the enforcement of each nation's labor laws.

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