Table of Contents

Global Governance through Trade

Global Governance through Trade

EU Policies and Approaches

Leuven Global Governance series

Edited by Jan Wouters, Axel Marx, Dylan Geraets and Bregt Natens

The 'new generation' of EU trade policies aims to advance public goods - such as promoting sustainable development, protecting human rights and enhancing governance in third states. These developments raise important questions surrounding extraterritoriality, coherence and legitimacy. In Global Governance through Trade leading scholars provide a cohesive overview of relevant papers and case studies to answer these questions and provide an in-depth assessment of the European Union's new trade policies.

Chapter 4: Human rights and sustainable development obligations in EU free trade agreements

Lorand Bartels

Subjects: law - academic, international economic law, trade law, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, international relations, regulation and governance


Since the early 1990s, the trade agreements entered into by the European Union (EU) 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 chapter 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 desirability of these differences in the EU’s approach to human rights and democratic principles, on the one hand, and labour and environmental standards, on the other.

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