Trade Agreements, Human Rights, and Health in the Context of Labour Markets and Environmental Standards
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As the number of free trade agreements (FTAs) continues to rise, so too does public concern over associated labour market and environmental impacts. Many trade unionists, for example, have protested over expected increases in unemployment and declining wages. Others have denounced FTAs for their positioning of trade objectives ahead of climate goals and for undermining key climate targets. At the same time, labour market and environmental conditions are recognized as important determinants of health. The focus of this essay will be an exploration of whether FTAs address human rights obligations in a manner that is consistent with fundamental employment standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), international human rights obligations of the United Nations (UN) (such as the right to work and the human right to health), and other environmental standards. The article begins with an overview of key human rights obligations in the context of labour markets and the environment and their connection to the human right to health. The article then discusses the extent to which FTAs account for these obligations.