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date: 22 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Although scholars, policy makers, and activists have long debated the relationship between trade and human rights, today scholars still know very little about that relationship or about causality. This chapter discusses whether scholars have asked and answered the right questions. They have asked whether trade leads to improvements in human rights (particularly when discussing the World Trade Organization or WTO), whether governments use trade to promote specific human rights, and whether policy makers use human rights conditions to justify trade agreements. But they have not asked if expanding trade empowers people to demand their rights or whether government respect for specific human rights (an aspect of good governance) might be a precondition for trade liberalization; for example, establishing the protection of property rights. The chapter offers some conclusions about why governments are increasingly linking trade and human rights in free trade agreements (FTAs), whether such links are effective, and whether these policy unions will thrive, Finally, I make suggestions for further research on trade and human rights issues including a focus on digital rights.

Keywords: trade, human rights, FTAs (free trade agreements) WTO, internet, labor, women’s rights

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