Marlese von Broembsen

Marlese von Broembsen
Director, Law Programme
All around the world, the law criminalizes the activities of street traders and waste pickers, and excludes homeworkers from employment rights and benefits. What is needed are new legal and institutional approaches to informal workers that recognize informal workers as workers and as contributors to the economy.
fr Expertise
informal economy, development and labour law, global value chains, and legal empowerment of the poor

Marlese von Broembsen joined WIEGO as the first Law Programme Director in October 2015. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa.  Marlese holds law degrees from the University of Cape Town and Harvard Law School and an M.A. in Development Studies from the University of the Western Cape. Prior to joining WIEGO, Marlese was a Visiting Researcher at the Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School. Marlese has held teaching positions at the universities of Cape Town, North-Eastern, USA, and the Western Cape. 

In 2014-15 she was awarded a Harvard South Africa Fellowship; a David and Elaine Potter Research Fellowship for contribution to civil society; and a National Research Foundation Innovation Scholarship. Marlese writes on labour law and development; transnational regulation of global value chains; and on homeworkers. She is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town.


Von Broembsen, Marlese. 2018. ‘Constitutionalizing Labour Rights: Informal Homeworkers in Global Value Chains’ International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations Vol. 34  (3) pp. 257–280.

The IGLP Law and Global Production Working Group. 2016. "The Role of Law in Global Value Chains: A Research Manifesto", 4,  London Rev. Int'l L. 57-79 (Contributor).   

Von Broembsen, Marlese. 2012. ‘People want to work, yet most have to labour: Towards decent work in South African supply chains’  Law, Development and Democracy Volume 16, pp.1-28.

Von Broembsen, MarleseM. 2012. ‘Mediating from the Margins: The Role of Intermediaries in Facilitating Participation in Formal Markets by Poor Producers and Users’ SAJLR Volume 36(1), pp. 31- 53.

Von Broembsen, Marlese. 2010. ‘Informal Business and Poverty in South Africa: Re-thinking the Paradigm’ Law Democracy and Development, Volume 10, pp.1-34.


Von Broembsen, Marlese. 2020. ‘Realizing the New Urban Agenda’s ideal of social inclusion: Street vendors’ participation in decision-making about the use of public space’ in (eds) Nestor Davidson and Geeta Tewari Law and the New Urban Agenda, Routledge, New York.

Von Broembsen, Marlese and Laura Alfers. 2019. ‘The UN Guiding Principles and the Informal Economy: Homeworkers in Global Supply Chains’ in (ed) Matthew Mullen, Navigating a New Era of Business and Human Rights (open source).

Von Broembsen, Marlese and Shane Godfrey. 2016 ‘Labour Law and Development viewed from below: What do case studies of the clothing sectors in South Africa and Lesotho tell us?’ in (ed) Shelley Marshall and Colin Fenwick,  Labour Regulation and Development Edward Elgar, Northampton, USA.

Von Broembsen, Marlese. 2011. ‘Poverty, Legal Empowerment and Informal Business in South Africa’ in Poverty, Labour and the Informal Economy in Africa: An Agenda for 'Legal Empowerment'? (ed) Dan Banik, Ashgate, Surrey.


Von Broembsen, Marlese. 2012. ‘Legal Empowerment of the Poor: The Re-emergence of a Lost Strand of Human Rights?’ Rapoport Human Rights Working Paper Series, Texas University.

Von Broembsen, Marlese. 2-13. ‘A New Constituting Narrative for Labour Law: A critique of Development and Making a Case for  Fraser’s Conception of Social Justice,’ LLRN Inaugural Conference.

Von Broembsen, Marlese. ‘You can’t bite the hand that feeds you: The commercial and contractual relations between the four large South African food retailers and their SME suppliers’ REDI 3x3 Working Paper 22, November 2016(Commissioned).

Von Broembsen, Marlese, Jenna Harvey, and Marty Chen. 2019. ‘Realizing Rights for Homeworkers: An Analysis of Governance Mechanisms’ Carr Centre . CCDP 2019-004, March 3/5/2019.

Von Broembsen, Marlese and Jenna Harvey. 2019. "Decent work for homeworkers in global supply chains: existing and potential mechanisms for worker-centred governance” ILO GLU Working Paper No. 54