Trade vs. Human Rights: Gatt Article XX in Context


Integrating human rights issues in the trade agreements has always been a question. The proponents of trade-human rights linkage insist that trade have huge impacts on human rights. Therefore, human rights concerns have to be addressed in all trade activities. Whereas, the opponents argue successful trade will automatically result in promotion of human rights situation. Trade is meant for making profit. Therefore, there remains little scope to address human rights concerns in trade activities. This article argues that trade agreements never itself altogether denied the human rights issues though did not use the term human rights specifically. In fact, GATT Article XX leaves scope for countries to protect human rights related issues under the title ‘social clause’. Though this Article XX concentrates on restricting trade measures on ground of public morals, human, animal and plant health, this in fact, paves the way for claiming more positive trade activities for promotion and implementation of human rights in general.

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