Forced to Be Good: Why Trade Agreements Boost Human Rights

In This Review

Forced to Be Good: Why Trade Agreements Boost Human Rights
By Emilie M. Hafner-Burton
Cornell University Press, 2009
232 pp. $39.95
Purchase

Preferential trade agreements have proliferated in the past two decades. Over time, those negotiated by the United States and the European Union have increasingly incorporated standards that do not relate directly to trade, especially ones involving human rights. This book explores the extent of this development, the reasons for it, and the consequences. Some countries, including democratic India and nondemocratic China, strongly object to such standards and can prevent their inclusion in multilateral trade agreements to which they are parties. But the United States and Europe can impose them in bilateral agreements with smaller countries that badly want better access to these two large markets. Linking trade preferences to human rights has clearly influenced the laws of many negotiating partners, sometimes even before the agreements have been signed. The extent to which they actually improve the rights of workers (emphasized by the United States) or the rights of citizens (emphasized by Europe) awaits further research and the passage of time.