‘Trade and Human Rights’ in Historical Perspective

Andrew Lang

in World Trade Law after Neoliberalism

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592647
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731396 | DOI:
‘Trade and Human Rights’ in Historical Perspective

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This chapter aims to de-reify our understandings of both the trade and human rights regimes. Instead of taking the contemporary form of each regime as a starting point and asking what the relationship between them is, it maps (some of) the political struggles which have shaped and reshaped each regime over their history, and shows how ideas about the relationship between them have evolved in tandem. The first part focuses on the first decades of the post-war period, in which the mutual isolation of the two regimes was produced and enabled by their shared commitment to embedded liberalism, which defined their respective mandates in ways which sublimated and displaced potential conflicts, and which made temporarily plausible the idea that the two could easily be kept separate. The second part looks at the erosion of this mutual isolation in the context of the challenges which developing countries mounted within both regimes during the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, the third section begins the story — continued in the next two chapters — of the way in which the neoliberal revolution of the 1980s and 1990s again transformed the relationship between the two regimes, and gave birth to the contemporary trade and human rights debate.

Keywords: trade regime; human rights regime; liberalism; developing countries; neoliberal thinking

Chapter.  19871 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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