The article contains analysis of flexibility as an important factor of the international labour standards’ effectiveness. This factor is explored in terms of substantive, form and implementation flexibility. Substantive flexibility is defined as a vague language or special «flexibility clauses» of the international treaties aimed at facilitation of their further ratification. The author suggests that ILO policy in this respect is excessively flexible, without reasonable justification by the higher probability of the Conventions’ ratification. The form flexibility is understood as the adoption of the international labour standards in form of either international treaties or as «soft-law» instruments. The experience of drafting of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention of 2006 (MLC) is treated as rather successful one in respect of combination of elements of a binding treaty and a soft-law act in the single instrument. The mechanism of amendment of the Maritime Labour Convention is also interesting in respect of the possibility to apply the amended Convention towards the state that ratified its earlier text — in the «semi-automatic» manner. The implementation flexibility follows from the politics of the international organizations concerning the control over the adopted international labour standards. Despite the fact that ILO possibilities to control the application of its instruments are rather limited, the Organization doesn’t make a full use of even the available means of control. The ILO is significantly more flexible in application of its standards than the European regional organizations — the Council of Europe and the European Union.
The article deals with the issues of interaction of international labour standards and international trade in context of Russia’s entry into the WTO. The “pro et contra” arguments concerning the linkage of international trade agreements and human rights in the field of labour are analyzed. The author proposes his critical appraisal of the ILO policy in respect of international trade globalization. Some suggestions concerning the Russia’s own policy on the matter are made.