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
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.
Subjects: Political Science
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