The human rights trade: understanding the inclusion of human rights provisions in bilateral trade agreements
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] In recent decades, the scope of bilateral trade agreements has expanded greatly, and some nations have used these agreements to address human rights practices in partner nations. Scholars have attempted to assess the effectiveness of these human rights provisions, but few have attempted to explain why nations would choose to include such a provision in a trade agreement. As such, there has been little emphasis placed on understanding what factors may lead to the inclusion of a human rights provision. Why do some bilateral trade agreements include human rights provisions while others do not? To answer this question, I examine all bilateral trade agreements formed during the time period of 1981-2009. I make the argument that these provisions are merely rhetoric and are placed in trade agreements at the behest of powerful nations when entering into agreements with less powerful partners. It is shown that power asymmetry between trade partners is a strong predictor of the inclusion of a human rights provision. Further, it is shown that nations do not place any great deal of consideration on the human rights practices in partner nations when deciding to include a human rights provision.
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