The World Trade Organization and Human Rights
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The World Trade Organization and Human Rights

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Edited by Sarah Joseph, David Kinley and Jeff Waincymer

This collection of essays from leading academics examines the connection between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and human rights issues, a topic which has provoked significant debate, particularly in the decade since the collapsed WTO talks in Seattle in 1999.
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Chapter 2: Beyond the Divide: The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Political Rights and the World Trade Organization

Robert Howse and Ruti G. Teitel


Robert Howse and Ruti G. Teitel 1. INTRODUCTION1 Since the end of the Cold War, two main visions have guided the evolution of international law and institutions – the vision of human rights and humanity and that of economic globalisation. Both visions have offered challenges to traditional understandings of sovereignty: both have given a new significance to non-state actors in the evolution and implementation of international law. Both have often given rise to demands and aspirations to global politics and/or constitutionalism as well as new relationships between local, national, regional and global levels of governance. However the legal, institutional and policy cultures of international human rights law and of international trade, financial and investment law have developed largely in isolation from one another. As a matter of international law, both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Economic Rights (‘ICESCR’)2 and the World Trade Organization (‘WTO’) are, in the first instance, treaty regimes. A fundamental structural characteristic of the international legal system is that of decentralization without hierarchy.3 Treaty norms in the ICESCR have an equal legal 1 This chapter is derived from a previous paper written by the authors: see R Howse and R G Teitel, ‘Beyond the Divide: The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the World Trade Organization (Occasional Paper No 30, Freidrich Ebert Stiftung, 2007) at 11 November 2008. 2 Opened for signature 16 December 1966, 999 UNTS 3 (entered into force 3 January 1976). 3 See generally, International Law Commission, Fragmentation...

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