Local Engagement with International Economic Law and Human Rights
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Local Engagement with International Economic Law and Human Rights

Edited by Ljiljana Biukovic and Pitman B. Potter

Providing an analysis of global regulation and the impact of international organizations on domestic laws, this collection grew out of a central objective to explore methods of domestic engagement with international trade and human rights norms, and the inherent difficulties in establishing balanced links between these two international law regimes. The common thread of the papers in this collection is a focus on the application of socio-legal normative paradigms in building knowledge and policy support for coordinating local performance with international trade and human rights standards in ways that are mutually sustaining.
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Chapter 10: Coordinating human rights and trade policy in China: the case of environmental protection

Pitman B. Potter


This chapter examines China’s responses to its environmental challenges and the implications for performance of international trade standards associated with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). As the chapters in this volume suggest, coordinating international trade and human rights performance remains difficult. The relationship between trade policy and the human right to a clean environment is an important illustration of the challenges and possibilities of achieving coordinated performance. This chapter finds that despite hopeful recent developments, China’s performance on environmental protection remains conflicted due to inconsistent policy direction and institutional oversight. Its environmental challenges and the regulatory system developed to manage them have also affected its trade policy performance, which faces continued challenges under GATT/WTO dispute-settlement processes. The importance of strengthening China’s environmental protection efforts and coordinating these with trade policy performance invites consideration of alternative approaches to confronting China’s environmental challenges. The potential for corporate social responsibility measures to improve the effectiveness of its environmental protection regime suggests hopeful possibilities for strengthening performance of international trade standards.

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