The article discusses the local impact of international framework agreements (IFAs). It presents findings from empirical research carried out in two Spanish MNCs, and it examines how the commitments stipulated by the texts of the IFAs translate in local practice in different subsidiaries in Central and South America. The article follows the policy cycle of both agreements, and it further evaluates them as emerging private institutions of global industrial relations governance. The main findings reveal a paradox. The generic character of IFAs encourages corporate consent for their adoption, but, in practice, it gives precedence to local laws and hence renders the enforcement of compliance difficult, and, in some cases, unfeasible. And where local laws contravene or lack compatibility with International Labour Organization conventions, the central premise of IFAs as instruments of global governance is largely undermined.