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Reframing Human Rights and Trade

Potential and Limits of a Human Rights Perspective of WTO Law on Cultural and Educational Goods and Services

Book | 1st edition 2010 | World | John Morijn

The how and why of connecting international human rights law and WTO law has been a hotly debated topic in international legal scholarship for quite some time. This book explores the extent to which these two sub-regimes of international law can be meaningfully linked as a matter of law and policy. WTO law on cultural and educational goods and services, thus far under-explored in this area of study, is taken as a case study.

The book first develops an international law based framework to assess the interface of human rights and WTO obligations. Its analysis reveals that GATT and GATS driven liberalisation in the area of culture and education raises tensions with various human rights norms. Applying the human rights/WTO law assessment framework, it is argued that these concerns would be best voiced by relying on the obligation to protect the right to education.

In the light of this situation the book first shows the potential to bring up this obligation in the context of WTO law and Dispute Settlement. The GATS clause relating to public services and the GATT/S General Exceptions provisions are found to be capable of accommodating States’ parallel human rights obligations. Yet, the book argues that this possibility alone will not automatically lead to a satisfactory result. Various remaining conceptual, methodological, and institutional barriers will need to be overcome. Further measures are suggested to ensure that human rights and WTO obligations can and will be taken equally seriously in practice.

A substantial contribution to the advancement of our knowledge and understanding in relation to the contemporary question of what is the role of the law in reconciling free trade with the diversity of cultural expression and educational systems.
Prof. Francesco Francioni, Professor of International Law and Human Rights, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

About the author
John Morijn holds master degrees in EU law and human rights law from the College of Europe and the European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation. He defended the PhD thesis at the basis of this book at the European University Institute in May 2009. John is a senior human rights specialist at the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, and a university lecturer in human rights law at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.

Technical info
More Information
Type of product Book
Format Hardback
EAN / ISSN 9789400000452
Serie name International Law
Weight 680 g
Status Available
Number of pages xviii + 290 p.
Access to exercice No
Publisher Intersentia
Language English
Publication Date Sep 24, 2010
Available on Jurisquare No
Available on Strada Belgique No
Available on Strada Europe No
Available on Strada Luxembourg No


  • Table of Contents
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The impact of international trade on ‘non-trade’ and ‘non-economic’ values and the case of GATT/S trade in culture and education
  • 3. Connecting international human rights law to WTO law: towards an assessment framework
  • 4. Applying the human rights/WTO law assessment framework to GATT/S trade in culture and education
  • 5. Exploring existing WTO law provisions for addressing human rights concerns: the case of trade in culture and education
  • 6. Overcoming further obstacles to integrating human rights in WTO law and WTO dispute settlement
  • 7. General conclusion: the need for reframing ‘human rights and trade’
  • Bibliography