Professor Harry Arthurs awarded a prestigious research prize

York University President Emeritus and former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, Professor Harry Arthurs, has been awarded the prestigious Decent Work Research Prize 2008 from the International Labour Organization (ILO), based in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Arthurs will share the prize with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University in New York City. 

In awarding the prize – which includes a financial award of US$10,000 that will be shared by the winners – the ILO jury of eminent international experts on labour and social policy issues described Arthurs as “Canada’s leading labour law academic” and cited his contribution to the understanding of socio-economic relationships and policy instruments for the advancement of decent work.  

Right: Harry Arthurs 

According to the ILO, "Decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives – their aspirations for opportunity and income; rights, voice and recognition; family stability and personal development; and fairness and gender equality."

"The ILO Prize is the most coveted prize in the world for a labour law scholar and is a truly monumental recognition of Professor Arthurs’ work, as well as a tribute to his remarkable contribution to the welfare of workers around the world," said Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Patrick Monahan. "We as a law school are privileged to have had Professor Arthurs as a member of our faculty for so many years. As Canadian citizens we have also benefited enormously from his service to society.”

The first two recipients of the ILO Prize in 2007 were Nelson Mandela, former president of the Republic of South Africa and Nobel Peace Laureate, and Carmelo Mesa-Lago, professor emeritus of economics and Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

Members of this year’s ILO jury included Gemma Adaba, representative to the United Nations of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC); Bina Agarwal, professor of economics, University of Delhi, India; Eduard Gaugler, professor emeritus, University of Mannheim, Germany; Anna Tibaijuka, under-secretary general and executive director, UN HABITAT; and Carlos Tomada, minister of work, employment & social security, Republic of Argentina and chairman of the ILO Governing Body, 2005-2006.

Left: Joseph Stiglitz

Tomada, said that “the recognition that the academic community gives to the organization’s values and the support that the ILO can provide to those who analyze and deepen those values, create a positive synergy. That synergy helps the world of work develop with social dialogue and a fair distribution.”

Arthurs served as dean of Osgoode Hall Law School from 1972 to 1977 and president of York University from 1985 to 1992. He served as commissioner reviewing Canada’s labour standards legislation from 2004 to 2006 and is currently commissioner reviewing Ontario’s pension legislation. 

His publications range widely over the areas of legal education and the legal profession, legal history and legal theory, labour and administrative law, globalization and – in recent years – constitutionalism. Arthurs’ academic contributions have been recognized by his election as an associate of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. In 2002, he was awarded the Canada Council’s Killam Prize for his lifetime contributions to the social sciences as well as the Bora Laskin Prize for his contributions to labour law.  

Arthurs has been an arbitrator and mediator in labour disputes, has conducted inquiries and reviews at Canadian and American universities, and has provided advice to governments on a number of issues ranging from higher education policy to the constitution to labour and employment law. He has also served as a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, member of the Economic Council of Canada and president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. He is a member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario and holds numerous honorary degrees.

Arthurs will also receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during York’s Spring Convocation ceremony for graduates of Osgoode Hall Law School taking place June 20. The honour is being given to Arthurs in appreciation of his enduring contributions as a teacher, scholar and leader during a career that has spanned more than 40 years at Osgoode and York University.

For more information, visit the ILO Web site.