Protecting Human Rights in a Global Economy: Challenges for the World Trade Organization
HUMAN RIGHTS IN DEVELOPMENT YEARBOOK 1999/2000: THE MILLENNIUM EDITION, pp. 51-82, Hugo Stokke, Anne Tostensen, eds., 2001
32 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2010 Last revised: 9 Feb 2010
Date Written: 2000
Since the late 1980s, the ascendancy of market economics coupled with a revolution in information technology has accelerated the process of globalization while institutions of international governance have been unable or unwilling to catch up. Privatization and the related phenomena of deregulation, structural adjustment, and a myriad of new bilateral, regional and multilateral trade and investment agreements have proceeded without credible efforts to conceptually and practically address their impacts on legally protected human rights. This paper addresses the tensions and potential synergies between the two legal regimes governing trade and investment and human rights. Trade and investment agreements, as well as the practices of international business, must be held accountable to existing human rights law. The spirit of human rights law must frame the development of trade law if either is to achieve its goals. While human rights violations existed long before this period of rapid economic integration, the growing number of sectors covered by multilateral trade and investment agreements has set the stage for a new variety of human rights abuses which have not yet been suitably addressed. There is a need to evolve new laws and policies in a manner that overcomes the post-war legacy of isolation between human rights institutions and economic institutions. This is something that the World Trade Organization, other multinational organizations, and all of mankind should address.
Keywords: World Trade Organization, WTO, Human Rights, Global Economy, Development, Privatization, Globalization, International Business, Trade, Investment
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