Forced to Be Good

Forced to Be Good: Why Trade Agreements Boost Human Rights

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Forced to Be Good
    Book Description:

    Preferential trade agreements have become common ways to protect or restrict access to national markets in products and services. The United States has signed trade agreements with almost two dozen countries as close as Mexico and Canada and as distant as Morocco and Australia. The European Union has done the same. In addition to addressing economic issues, these agreements also regulate the protection of human rights. In Forced to Be Good, Emilie M. Hafner-Burton tells the story of the politics of such agreements and of the ways in which governments pursue market integration policies that advance their own political interests, including human rights.

    How and why do global norms for social justice become international regulations linked to seemingly unrelated issues, such as trade? Hafner-Burton finds that the process has been unconventional. Efforts by human rights advocates and labor unions to spread human rights ideals, for example, do not explain why American and European governments employ preferential trade agreements to protect human rights. Instead, most of the regulations protecting human rights are codified in global moral principles and laws only because they serve policymakers' interests in accumulating power or resources or solving other problems. Otherwise, demands by moral advocates are tossed aside. And, as Hafner-Burton shows, even the inclusion of human rights protections in trade agreements is no guarantee of real change, because many of the governments that sign on to fair trade regulations oppose such protections and do not intend to force their implementation.

    Ultimately, Hafner-Burton finds that, despite the difficulty of enforcing good regulations and the less-than-noble motives for including them, trade agreements that include human rights provisions have made a positive difference in the lives of some of the people they are intended-on paper, at least-to protect.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5870-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-3)

    Something is happening to global trade regulation. In the 1980s, the United States negotiated and signed what would become the first of several free trade agreements. These agreements, with Israel (1985) and Canada (1988), aimed to eliminate all duties and virtually all other restrictions on trade in goods between the countries. Neither agreement mentioned protecting people’s well-being or their right to human dignity—the United States mentioned human rights only in one-way programs that gave other countries access to its market.

    Decades later, the United States negotiated and signed free trade agreements with Chile (2003), Singapore (2003), Australia (2004), Morocco...

    (pp. 4-22)

    By making trade conditional on respect for human beings’ right to dignity, a few economically powerful countries are changing the politics of trade and also the politics of repression. They are pushing their human rights agenda one country at a time through the use of preferential trade agreements (PTAs). To date, a considerable number of these agreements promise to defend human rights of one kind or another, and some provide ways to enforce these promises. Many more agreements are in the process of negotiation.¹ Commerce, on the face of it, has never looked so principled.²

    Why are the United States...

    (pp. 23-47)

    Fair preferential trade regulations protecting human rights should never have been created. They are costly: abusive governments run the risk of getting caught and losing considerable benefits, while enforcers hazard expensive implementation procedures that jeopardize market access (Baehr and Castermans-Holleman 2004). They are bad diplomacy: governments charged with human rights violations are quick to view accusations as meddling in their private affairs (Hoffman 1981). They are protectionist: they jeopardize a core principle of the global trade regime—nondiscrimination—intended to defend governments from measures to protect domestic markets, perhaps compromising global trade gains (Bhagwati 1988, 2000). And they are unpopular:...

    (pp. 48-83)

    We turn back now to our original question: Why did some policymakers in the United States and Europe advocate for regulations protecting human rights within preferential trade agreements? Chapter 2 described the conditions under which this advocacy develops. Policymakers want human rights protections when those regulations help them to solve other political problems or to win the support of bootlegger interest groups that can help them amass more money, power, or influence and when they can use moral language to sell the policy, regardless of whether they share the moral convictions about the value of protecting people’s human rights. Therefore,...

    (pp. 84-114)

    Now that we have seen how the political interests of policymakers in the United States and Europe prompted their desire for preferential trade agreements that include human rights protections, we turn to the next step in the process: how these policymakers then succeeded in placing human rights standards of conduct into trade policies in the United States and Europe.

    As we saw in chapter 2, institutional dynamics are central to the story. Policymakers’ preferences are not always directly reflected in the eventual regulations that are adopted. Moreover, not all policymakers have equal influence at every stage of the regulatory process....

    (pp. 115-141)

    Now that we have examined the influences that led policymakers to embrace human rights trade protections (chapter 3) and the institutional maneuvering through which they passed trade regulations (chapter 4), we arrive at the final step in the policymaking process: the dominant economic powers had to convince their trading partners to sign on. Why have so many countries—especially those with repressive and tyrannical governments—elected to join these preferential trade agreements that can punish them for their human rights abuses? And why do these same governments, most of which have rejected fair trade standards for human rights in the...

    (pp. 142-164)

    We now turn our attention to the outcomes of these preferential trade regulations protecting human rights and their impact on the politics of repression. Do these regulations actually help to protect people from harm? Do they ever stop or prevent human rights violations in other countries or prompt new policies that might help achieve that goal?

    While chapters 3, 4, and 5 argue that PTA standards obligating governments to protect human rights have been made to suit a variety of political needs and circumstances, not always with the intent to stop repression, this chapter argues that the standards can help...

    (pp. 165-174)

    This book examines why countries create and how they use fair preferential trade standards that protect human rights. It asks four specific questions about this process. Why did the United States and Europe begin to regulate human rights through PTAs? Why do American agreements create standards of conduct to protect workers’ and children’s human rights while European PTAs mainly protect fundamental human rights for voters and citizens?¹ Why do other countries, especially the ones that perpetrate human rights abuses, join these agreements that interfere with their governments’ business and may have bad economic effects? And do any of these regulations...

    (pp. 175-180)
    (pp. 181-210)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 211-220)