Assessing the Effectiveness of Transnational Public and Private Policy Initiatives
Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Axel Marx, Jan Wouters, Glenn Rayp and Laura Beke
Chapter 5: Asian and US perspectives on labor rights under international trade agreements compared
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) are evolving and growing in number, though commitments to labor protections under social dimension provisions (SD), while also growing, may tend to be static from a particular country’s perspective, whether it be a ‘US perspective’, an ‘EU perspective’, or an ‘Asian perspective’. And, there is a question of whether there is such a thing as an ‘Asian perspective’, or whether that is as elusive a concept as ‘Asian human rights?’ However, as will be argued in this chapter, there is one constant throughout the many different FTAs and BITs – the central role of the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s core labor standards. The ILO has categorized the approaches utilized by SD labor provisions as conditional or promotional, and researchers can seek to assess the degree of adherence by countries in meeting and maintaining those standards, not only in international trade and investment commitments, but more importantly as translated into domestic legislation that is meaningfully enforced. ‘Asia’, of course, is a big word and encompasses the many parts of Asia: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia, etc.
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