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Beyond Harmonization: Trade, Human Rights and the Economy of Sacrifice



This article engages with the current internationalist debate about the ‘linkage’ or the proper relationship of trade and human rights law. The debate, as played out in activist commentary, scholarly journals and the reports of international institutions, is largely concerned with the substantive obligations or normative commitments involved in the two fields. This article seeks to address instead the forms of law (the patterns of relations and subject positions) that transmit, frame or accompany these obligations and commitments. It suggests that focusing on this question of the forms of law is helpful, perhaps even necessary, in developing an understanding of the political effects of appealing to democratic participation as a counter to the excesses of economic globalization. The particular focus of the article is on WTO agreements that pursue the goal of regulatory harmonization as a means of achieving greater market access and economic integration. It explores the relationship between the form of law mandated by these harmonization agreements (the form of sacrifice), and the form of law envisaged in an appeal to democratic political participation (the form of abandonment).



Beyond Harmonization: Trade, Human Rights and the Economy of Sacrifice



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