Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2006

Publication Citation

13 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 225 (2006)


This article examines why India has opposed a World Trade Organization (WTO) workers' rights clause, and calls for a new way of thinking about international institutions and the link between trade and labor rights. Many labor rights supporters argue that labor rights principles should be integrated into the WTO, either via the addition of a workers' rights clause or through a 'judicial" reading of labor rights values into the existing WTO framework. But India has led a large block of developing countries in opposing any link between labor rights and the WTO. This opposition has been based primarily on economic arguments that suggest linkage is motivated by protectionism, concerns about political sovereignty and neocolonialism, and structural arguments about the proper institutional roles of the ILO and WTO. These arguments, it is suggested, must be understood in both a contemporary and historical context. In light of this opposition by developing countries, the article proposes a transition from a WTO-centered view of trade and labor linkage o a paradigm based on bilateral and regional market-based agreements that utilize the ILO's model that would engage more dynamically with the concerns presented by India and other stakeholders in the developing world.

Globalization and the New Politics of Labor, Symposium. Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, February 11-12, 2005.