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date: 28 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article addresses the links between international trade, human rights, and labour standards. The integration of global markets in goods and service, facilitated first by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and subsequently by the World Trade Organization, has been correlated with a decline in poverty and a general improvement in the status of women and children. But as cases of poor labour standards and human rights violations also abound, activists have argued for the establishment of international labour standards linked to market access within the WTO to remedy some of these violations. After providing a brief historical overview of the scant provisions on this subject in the multilateral trade regime, and the theoretical case for such standards, the article analyses seven labour standard categories, the link between globalization and human rights violations, and the market inefficiency or inequity that a standard would remedy. It concludes by looking at the implementation of labour standards in practice, focusing on the Generalized System of Preferences and the Better Factories Cambodia initiative.

Keywords: international trade, human rights, labour standards, Tariffs and Trade, World Trade Organization, globalization, human rights violations, market inefficiency, System of Preferences, Better Factories Cambodia

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