International Trade and Human Rights: An Economic Perspective


Publish Date:
June 1, 2003
University of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper
Working Paper
  • Alan O. Sykes, International Trade and Human Rights, University of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper, No. 188 (June 2003).


Opponents of globalization in general and of the World Trade Organization in particular often contend that a tension exists between the growth of open markets and various conceptions of “human rights.” This paper takes issue with such claims. Both theory and the available empirical evidence suggest that the growth of the trading system generally tends to promote rather than to undermine human rights. Any tensions are best resolved through tailored interventions that directly address the human rights impairment without sacrificing the wider benefits of freer trade.