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Home arrow Research Projects arrow IP4 - Human Rights arrow Project Description
Project Description Print

Trade has never been a purely economic activity. The impact on the individual of exchanging goods and services has always had a strong social aspect. The legalization of trade relations has not changed this. Nevertheless, the explosive growth in the law of human rights since World War II has made the negative social impacts of trade more interesting from a legal point of view. Moreover, both the advancement of the trade liberalization project and its increasing legalization has sharpened the interaction between the two legal systems, causing both conflicts and congruences.

Our project seeks to examine the legal relationship between the human rights legal regime and the laws of the international economic system. One of the project’s goals is to make analyses of specific trade and human rights interactions, identifying the legal basis for conflicts between the two regimes, as well as to evaluate proposed methods of resolving the conflicts or suggesting methods to be used to address the conflict. Additionally, we will attempt to identify how the two regimes support each other and how an efficient use of one legal system could strengthen respect for the other. Conventional ways of viewing the specific problems will be tested and supplemented by less conventional views on recognized problems, and consideration will be given to where problems may exist that have not as yet been detected.

A second goal of IP4 is to develop a framework for addressing trade and human rights conflicts based on principles of global justice. This will be a conceptual undertaking, although our results in the case-specific portion of the project will lend concrete foundations to the theoretical framework.

Finally, the project aims to enhance the interactions between the trade and human rights communities and to increase the visibility of this dialogue in the public sphere.

 Focus of individual researchers

Prof. Dr. Christine Kaufmann
looks particularly at the trading system and the right to food as well as at the human right impacts of the international financial institutions.

Dr. iur. Katja Gehne is focussing on the legal principle of sustainability in the context of world trade and investment. 

Prof. Dr. Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer is mainly interested in the conceptual issues of global justice and the WTO's impact on human rights, and is also working on the topic of women and the international trade regime.

Barnali Choudhury specializes in the implications of international investment rules and the liberalization of services on human rights, including on women's human rights.

Simone Heri is focussing on the development of human rights impact assessments of trade rules and policies.

Franziska Humbert is a consultant working on Generalized Systems of Preferences and Corporate Social Responsibility.

There is a large amount of information on Trade and Human
Rights issues available electronically. The following sites
are particularly helpful:

International Governmental Bodies

Non-Governmental Organizations

Informative Links

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School's Human Rights and Trade Partnership Project

SNF - Swiss National Science Foundation The National Centres of Competence in Research are a research instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation