The objective of this article is to analyze the effect of World Trade Organization (WTO), Common Market of the South (MERCOSUL), and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) disputes involving Latin American (LA) countries on perfection of the rule of law by LA governments.
Specifically, we examine the extent to which dispute settlement facilitates the strengthening by LA governments of human rights for their civil societies. Professor Powell previously has noted that trade and human rights are inextricably linked because trade rules weaken the ability of governments to promote sustainable development, to alleviate the widening gap between rich and poor, to ensure core labor rights among their workforce, to deter trafficking in women and farm workers, to address devastating levels of disease, to preserve indigenous and other cultural identities, and even to sustain democratic governance. Our study permitted creation of an extensive series of data arrays on dozens of aspects of dispute panel decisions, ranging from the countries most actively appearing before panels, the measures most often challenged, the effectiveness of dispute settlement systems to reach their treaty timelines, and the trend toward increased litigation before regional trade panels rather than the WTO. We documented the substantially increased chance of appeal if the USA was a party, measured the extent to which dispute resolution has brought non-conforming laws into compliance, and revealed prevailing undercurrents in MERCOSUL from the pattern of dispute settlement among the Members.
The article finds that a groundswell of legislation increasing the transparency and accountability of government rule making lends support to our hypothesis that trade dispute settlement contributes to management and perfection of the rule of law in support of democratic governance for civil societies in Latin America. Although governments must enforce these laws with vigor for civil society to realize their promise of increased freedom of expression and due process, we are heartened by the results of this project and impassioned to mine further the legislative data in particular as additional laws are enacted and enforcement infrastructure created and improved.
- DISPUTE SETTLEMENT,
- TRADE AND HUMAN RIGHTS,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stephen_powell/7/