Making the global economy
work for human rights
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Coming to grips with the impact of an increasingly global economy on the enjoyment of human rights is no easy task. There has been too little research to assist our understanding of the role of globalization generally, and trade liberalization specifically, for good or ill, in the implementation of human rights standards.
Despite the lack of data, the links between trade, development, and human rights are increasingly plain to see—from the impact of open markets on jobs in developed countries to the implementation of labour and environmental standards in developing countries, from the question of trade-restrictive measures to protect public health to barriers to full participation by developing countries in the international economic system. These are just some of the difficult issues that must be addressed if we are to ensure that the global economy contributes to the realization of all human rights for all people.
Our point of departure should be that trade and economic growth are not ends in themselves. As the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Mike Moore, has pointed out, the international trading system must contribute to better living standards and a safer world and the WTO should reflect the needs of all its members. The 1994 WTO Agreement incorporates the objectives of higher standards of living, steady growth of real income, full employment, and economic growth patterns compatible with sustainable develop-