Presentation remarks from Dr Vera Pavlou for Prof. Adelle Blackett

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to be presenting to you today Professor Adelle Blackett as one of the recipients of this year’s Bob Hepple Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Labour Law. Adelle Blackett is Professor of Law and the Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labor Law and Development at McGill University in Canada. She is an exceptional scholar who initiated new lines of inquiry and shaped labour law scholarship in many ways. She is also a wonderful and inspiring person who brings her passion and depth of reflection in every topic she tackles.

Let me start by highlighting some of Adelle’s outstanding contributions to labour law scholarship, teaching and practice.

Professor Adelle Blackett has been a leader in the study of domestic work from a socio-legal perspective. Her research in this area dates back to the 1990s when Adelle was a trainee at the Labour Law and Labour Relations Branch of the International Labour Organization. At the time, domestic work was largely ignored in mainstream labour law scholarship. The working paper she prepared, as well as her numerous publications that followed, planted a seed that grew into her being at the heart of the preparatory research and legal drafting work for ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Professor Blackett is the legal architect behind this Convention that seeks to change the way work within private households is understood and regulated around the world. Her award-winning book, Everyday Transgressions: Domestic Workers’ Transnational Challenge to International Labour Law contains rare glimpses into the process of treaty-making at the global level and sheds light on the situation of millions of workers who support the smooth functioning of contemporary societies.

In other work, Professor Blackett combines her knowledge of labour law principles with her deep understanding of development realities. She guided a tripartite process in Haiti for the preparation of a new labour code. She has worked extensively on issues of labour law and development in Africa and the African diaspora. Her work has always included perspectives from the Global South and the Global North. She is renowned for her commitment to studying contemporary labour issues by scrutinizing the past, scarred as it is by slavery and distorted trade rules. Blackett has put critical race theory to use in examining the connections between slavery and the development of labour law. She also serves as the General Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery for the International Academy of Comparative law.

In her teaching of labour law, Professor Adelle Blackett draws on her extensive knowledge and first-hand experience in the field. She has taught numerous courses on international and transnational labour law that invite students to critically engage with contemporary sources and the historical development of legal regimes. She has been awarded several prizes for her innovative teaching.

We, the Labour Law Research Network community, are not the only ones who think Professor Blackett is an outstanding legal scholar – she has received numerous prizes and awards from academic and professional bodies in Canada and around the world that demonstrate the quality and impact of her scholarly work and engagement. Some of these awards include the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers’ Pathfinder Award and no less than three honoris causa doctorate degrees: from Queen’s University, Universite Catolique de Louvain and Simon Fraser University.

Everyone who has had the pleasure of collaborating with Adelle speaks of a very warm, modest and at the same time very generous and fun-to-work-with person. She is described as someone who knows how to bring people together, forging academic but also personal connections. Early-career colleagues who benefitted from her mentoring speak of a very supportive and encouraging mentor. But even those who only know Adelle through her publications can get a good sense of the person she is by reading her acknowledgment sections and by observing how she engages with the work of others. She always includes very kind and thoughtful words acknowledging support from others: mentors, colleagues, research assistants, her family and friends. Her words show genuine appreciation and affection. Adelle is generous when engaging with colleagues’ work and gracious even when expressing disagreement.

For all her achievements and above all her ethos, Adelle is a role model to me and to many others.

Please join me in congratulating Professor Adelle Blackett for being awarded this year’s Bob Hepple Prize!