Read today's eNewspaper

University of Cambridge

Unanswered questions about trade and human rights

Unanswered questions about trade and human rights

As long as men and women have traded, they have wrestled with questions of human rights. Under international law, policymakers are supposed to view human rights as universal and indivisible. Hence in its free trade agreements, the E.U. includes provisions calling upon its trade agreement partners to promote universal human rights as delineated under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. However, it does not make these provisions obligatory or enforceable.

The U.S. takes a different approach to the wedding of trade and human rights; it uses trade agreements to prompt governments to respect specific human rights such as labor and due process rights. In 2007, the U.S. made some of...