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Theses Master's

A Human Rights Based Approach to Trade: An Analysis of Labor Provisions in US Trade Agreements

Dalton, Jessica

The current approach to trade is intrinsically contradictory to the enhancement of human rights. Criticisms of trade liberalization have begun to push the boundaries of this discussion, claiming that the affect of trade on labor standards should have a more significant role in the discourse on trade. As such, a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) is utilized in this thesis as the policy tool to evaluate labor provisions in US trade agreements. A HRBA requires assessing trade agreements, including the processes associated with negotiating and implementing them, against the human rights principles of participation, equitable development and accountability. This study concludes that the unequal participation of states, business and labor in the negotiations of US trade agreements results in ineffective labor provisions. This is evident in the textual modifications to labor chapters in trade agreements, as well as the implementation of labor provisions through legal and institutional reform, which did not always result in the enhancement of labor rights. Moreover, a gap in governance left workers without effective accountability mechanisms at multiple levels. Trade policies should be designed to enhance the realization of human rights of all stakeholders, and a HRBA is a contribution to that objective.

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More Information

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Braun, Rainer
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
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