A Structural Development Trap? : A Critical Analysis of the Idea of a ‘Universal, Rules-Based, Open, Non-Discriminatory, and Equitable Multilateral Trading System’.
Sammanfattning: Human rights advocates have expressed their concern about the marginalisation of human rights principles and the actual or potential human rights implications of WTO agreements. The international economic law and human rights law have been developed as two parallel regimes, yet trade and economics have been at the centre of most developing agendas in modern time. There has been a persistent desire to achieve a universal multilateral trading system by both Global North and Global South. The Agenda 2030 is not an exception to emphasise the importance of such a trading system as one of its targets calls for a ‘universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory, and equitable multilateral trading system’. Furthermore, the desired multilateral trading system is presumed to facilitate other development goals of the Agenda. Although peoples’ living standards are increasing worldwide, substantial inequalities remain between and within countries. If we only focus on legal rights and freedoms, people may live on the verge of an adequate standard of living and are thus not able to improve one’s well-being beyond that and lead the life one has reason to value. Hence, this study aims to go beyond the legislative protection of human rights by applying Amartya Sen’s capability approach which focuses on the ethical notion of human rights. Additionally, the approach focuses on the expansion of peoples’ capabilities and freedoms to achieve what one value doing and being. If a universal multilateral trading system is assumed to be beneficial for trade, economy, and to achieve development goals, will the outcomes of such system be beneficial for all peoples’ capabilities to lead the lives they have reason to value? The main findings of this study suggest that the political economy of world trade facilitates a subordination of countries in which some are benefitted, while others are stuck with the production of goods associated with low wages and unhealthy work conditions. This may affect the distribution of intergenerational equity and sustainability, affecting capabilities of many generations to come. One significant conclusion of this study is that legislative protection of human rights is not enough to target detrimental structures and to ensure everyone the kind of life and living standards one has reason to value.
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