Labour and trade-related regulation: beyond the trade/labour standards debate?

Wilkinson, Rorden (1999) Labour and trade-related regulation: beyond the trade/labour standards debate? The British Journal Of Politics And International Relations, 1 (2). pp. 165-191. ISSN 1467-856X

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As well as consolidating and enhancing the process of trade liberalisation, the completion of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations establishing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) formalised the expansion of multilateral trade regulation into areas of commercial activity previously deemed to be trade-related. This expansion, however, has been highly uneven, privileging the needs of capital, and to a much lesser degree land, over labour. Attempts to secure a degree of regulatory protection for labour in the legal framework of the WTO—by requiring that the Organisation's members adhere to a set of core labour standards when engaged in trade-producing activities—have so far failed. Both the Singapore (1996) and Geneva (1998) Ministerial Meetings of the WTO witnessed discussion of this issue, yet neither resulted in a comprehensive and satisfactory outcome for labour. That said, significant opportunity exists for the reconstruction of the trade-labour standards debate within the WTO. This article, seeks to demonstrate how this might be the case. In doing so, it first reviews the process of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/WTO involvement in the regulation of trade-related areas. Second, it explores the current deadlock that characterises the issue of trade and labour standards within the WTO's legal framework as well as the more significant positions that have emerged among the Organisation's membership by focusing on British, US and EU involvement in this issue. Third, it identifies the reactions of certain key member states to the protests of civil society at the 1998 Geneva Ministerial Meeting of the WTO as the means by which the issue of trade and labour standards may once again be raised. And finally, it considers how the effective regulation of labour standards might be made within the confines of the WTO's legal framework by examining a range of options.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Nadya Herrera Catalan
Date Deposited: 12 May 2015 05:22
Last Modified: 12 May 2015 05:22
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