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Apr 05

Beyond Labor Rights: Which Core Human Rights Must Regional Trade Agreements Protect?

By: Stephen Joseph Powell and Trisha Low

 

As World Trade Organization (“WTO”) Members relentlessly pursue new regional trade agreements to achieve even faster economic growth than the extraordinary numbers posted by global trade rules, the smaller number of parties and their greater cultural affinity have led negotiators to address the intersection of trade and human rights to an extent unparalleled in the culturally disparate and near-unmanageable, 150-plus member WTO itself. These new provisions have used trade’s huge power to improve worker rights, secure environmental protections, and make initial inroads toward defending indigenous populations from trade’s adverse effects. Employing the perspectives both of trade negotiators and students of this halting progress toward the integration of trade and human rights, we have concluded that the single greatest barrier to engaging in regional trade agreements (“RTAs”) openly and unequivocally to reduce global poverty through human rights implementation is the near-impenetrable complexity of human rights norms.

 

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