Human Rights and Sustainable Development Obligations in EU Free Trade Agreements
20 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2012 Last revised: 5 Dec 2014
Date Written: September 1, 2012
Since the early 1990s, the EU’s trade agreements have included a ‘human rights clause’ requiring the parties to respect human rights and democratic principles. More recently, beginning with the 2008 EU-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement, they have also included ‘sustainable development’ chapters, which contain obligations to respect labour and environmental standards. This article considers the extent to which, legally, these two sets of provisions give the EU the means of implementing its obligations to ensure that its external activities respect human rights and pursue the objective of promoting sustainable development. It also considers the differences in the EU’s approach to the human rights and democratic principles, on the one hand, and labour and environmental standards, on the other, and the extent to which these different approaches risk undermining the EU’s obligation to respect the indivisibility of all human rights.
Keywords: international law, Free trade agreements, FTAs, European Union, external relations law, human rights, sustainable development, environmental standards, labour standards, labor standards
JEL Classification: K31, K32, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation