Humanrightsandtrade - Human Rights and Global Trade Introduction One may question upon first observation the relevance of global trade to an issue

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Human Rights and Global Trade Introduction One may question, upon first observation, the relevance of global trade to an issue such as human rights. What is the effect of global trade on human rights? This rather vague question is the general theoretical basis of the human rights-trade issue. As we shall learn throughout the course of the paper, global trade does indeed have an enormous impact on human rights in the international system. World trade has skyrocketed in most recent years, particularly in countries that have yet to develop significantly – both economically and politically. Between 1990 and 1995, total private capital flows have quadrupled. In addition, the percentage of the share of the world’s manufacturing exports rose from 5% in the 1970s to 25% in the early 1990s. (Amnesty International, 2000) Parts of the world that had seemed until recently to be relatively stagnant – as compared to the Western powers – have burgeoned with respect to global trade. This would apply especially to many developing countries ( Less Developed Countries – see Glossary) in Southeast Asia that, in the later part of the 20 th century, have been starting to feel the full effect of global trade upon further integration into the global marketplace. (Luft, 2004) With the rapid influx of world trade especially in recent years, multinational corporations (MNCs) have seen a growth in their importance and power in developing countries. One hundred of the largest MNCs now control over one third of the total stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) and about 70% of world trade. (Amnesty International, 2000) MNCs, in addition to the LDCs, play a very significant role in the issue of human rights. The importance of global trade – and all of its essential actors – to human rights lies in a simple observation. 1
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Given the importance of trade and MNCs’ role in international society (particularly in LDCs), it stands to reason that the way in which the lower-class workers that help drive global trade are treated is of great importance as well. The actions of the host less developed government or of multinational corporations directly affect the lives of these workers – and vice versa. In addition, “people living in various parts of the world are affected very differently by [ globalization’s ] gigantic transformation of social structures and cultural zones.” (Bronner, 2005) Globalization may lead some to tremendous wealth, whereas others suffer in “abject poverty.” With the expansion of world trade and increasing globalization and interdependence between states , the issue of human rights becomes an ever more salient issue in the international system. Though the effect of global trade on human rights is certainly a central focus in this
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This note was uploaded on 03/10/2008 for the course PL SC 418 taught by Professor Powers during the Fall '05 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

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Humanrightsandtrade - Human Rights and Global Trade Introduction One may question upon first observation the relevance of global trade to an issue

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