Laudatio Janice R. Bellace for the Bob Hepple Award 2023

Dear ladies and gentlemen. Dear colleagues.

It is my honour and pleasure to present to you Janice R. Bellace as one of this year’s recipients of the Bob Hepple Award for lifetime achievement in labour law. Unfortunately, I have only 10 minutes to do this, and that is too short to share with you all the reasons why Janice deserves this award. Fortunately, there are two alternative ways in which it can be done within the 10 minutes.
The first way, in fact, can be done within less than 1 minute. I have asked a few of Janice’s befriended colleagues why Janice deserves this award. Their answer was unanimous and short: she is a wonderful colleague and a great labour law academic.
The second way takes a bit longer. For this I will follow what 2100 years ago a roman husband did for his wife Turia, namely by delivering a laudatio by six characteristics: devotion, generosity, loyalty, courage, selflessness, and spirit. To make the laudatio complete, I do this by starting each paragraph with a letter of Janice’s name.

Let me start.

Janice’s devotion to labour law hardly needs any elucidation. Her numerous publications, especially on the International Labour Organization and its standards leave no doubt about her devotion to labour law and its cause.

Additionally, Janice’s devotion to the labour law community as such also hardly needs any elucidation. She is the first female President of ILERA (2009-2012) and the first female President of ISL&SSL (2018-2021). As such she managed to break through two glass ceilings paving the path for other female labour law professors to take up leading roles, as has been done by Mia Rönnmar in ILERA and by Maria Emilia Casas Baamonde in ISL&SSL.

Not only has Janice been devoted to labour law, its cause, and our community, she has always been extremely generous in sharing her expertise, knowledge, and passion for labour law. Of course, we find this in her publications, but also in her lectures (I have had the pleasure to be with a few), her talks at conferences, and everyone who has worked with Janice has experienced this. The latter I can personally also vouch for, since I have learned a lot from her when we worked on the Research Handbook on Labour, Business and Human Rights Law.

It is such generosity that brings the kind of extraordinariness (I am not sure if that is a proper English word) that characterises many of the Bob Hepple Award recipients.

Characteristic for Janice is also her loyalty to the field of labour law. Academically, we can see this in the focal points of her work: women rights or equal pay, equal treatment and equal opportunity; labour rights as human rights; and the ILO as such and its labour standards more particularly. With some side-tracks such as free trade agreements, CSR codes of conducts and human rights due diligence, which in fact are international instruments that are in general used to promote the before mentioned labour law topics. Such loyalty is also found in her editorial activities, especially for the Comparative Labor Law Journal that she has been involved with in various roles for many years.

Exceptional for Janice is that her loyalty to the field of labour law is not limited to academic activities. Indeed, her activities extend to:
- having been a member of the ILO’s Committee of Experts for the maximum term of 12 years, in which period she served as chair for 2 years;
- having assisted Ukraine in the early 1990s to rewrite its labour laws; and currently;
- as serving as judge and vice-president of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal.

Remarkable is Janice’s courage. I have already mentioned that Janice managed to break some glass ceilings. Which takes courage, although I doubt whether Janice would think so herself: it is just a matter of caring and doing.

Besides breaking ceilings, Janice’s courage is also found in her publications, since she often takes on topics that are not the easiest to deal with. For example, when in 2012 the ILO’s Committee on the Freedom of Association got deadlocked, because the employers’ representatives no longer accepted the interpretation of the right to strike as an inherent element of the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, Janice set out to find proof that it is and that it also has always been the ILO’s understanding and approach. While many did not even start such endeavour or failed to find such proof, Janice did find the proof in some relatively unknown, very specific labour standards. And this is just one example of many.

Endless encouragement is one of the aspects of Janice’s selflessness. Encouragement of, for example ELLYS (European Labour Law Young Scholars) which is the European subsection of ISL&SSL young scholars sections, to further develop their activities within ISL&SSL to give more space for young scholars within ISL&SSL. But also her deliberate choice to continuously work with young scholars (like she did with me for our edited book) to support them and help them develop and grow.

Likewise, is Janice’s approach to her own career an example of her selflessness. While many of us feel the need to publish, present, take on administrative activities, to advance in our careers. This seems to have been never a driver for Janice. I found an interview with Janice in Wharton Magazine, fall 1995. What stands out in this interview is that Janice’s drive for the academic lies with what is needed for the students (transparency in academic schedules; learning a second language; getting international experience) and her genuine concern with labour law topics which she consistently approaches with a comparative and international view.

Let me take a small sidestep here away from labour law to illustrate another act of academic selflessness that characterises Janice. In 1999 Janice took a leave of absence from the Warthon School to become the founding president of the Singapore Management University, from which she stepped down in 2001 and then served as a trustee.

All this leads me to talk about the “spirit of Janice”. This first of all concerns her work spirit. This is truly amazing. Janice works fast, efficient, and extremely accurate. I still don’t understand how you do this. Secondly, it concerns how Janice is doing things. Whatever task she takes on, she does so with full engagement, passion, and care. Thirdly, it concerns the Janice as a person. Whoever has had the honour and opportunity to work with her, discovers quickly that Janice is a professional, but also a caring person, a mother and a family-oriented person.

Complementary to the “spirit of Janice” in how she works and is as a person, her spirit can also be found in the content of her work. It is never to just have another publication out or to be heard and seen at a conference. Whatever she writes or presents is always with a message or a mission on a labour law topic. Every piece of her work offers new insights and therefore matters.

Ending this laudatio can now be short. As Janice’s befriended colleagues unanimously and strongly expressed: Janice is a wonderful colleague and a great labour law academic. And that is why she deserves to receive the Bob Hepple Award.

25 June 2023, Warszawa
Beryl ter Haar