International Trade Agreements & Worker's Rights *CANCELLED* (LAW-795WR-B001)
This class also meets on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2 from 9:00am - 11:00am at WCL.
The debate surrounding workers’ rights in the global economy is increasingly politicized and divisive. Indeed, following a heated U.S. election that included focus on trade agreements and workers’ rights, one of the Trump Administration’s first executive orders withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). That order was quickly followed by directions to renegotiate – if not withdraw from – the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and to renegotiate the United States – Korea (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement. These decisions have been based, at least in part, on the presumption that United States trade agreements as previously negotiated are unfair and, among other things, have left American workers at a disadvantage to cheaper labor overseas.
The withdrawal from and renegotiation of trade agreements has raised a significant policy question concerning the manner and extent to which workers’ rights should be regulated in trade. Before this question may be addressed, it is critical to understand what international workers’ rights mean, how they are established, and how those rights play out in practice. In addition, what tools are available to protect and promote international workers’ rights? Should those tools be confined to trade agreements or should they include broader international governance, such as the International Labor Organization (ILO)? This course will answer those questions by examining the evolution of international workers’ rights in both trade agreements and as promoted by the ILO. This examination will be carried out in three forums, designed to strengthen students’ practical and theoretical knowledge as well as their persuasive written and verbal skills. First, students will have the opportunity to learn about the policy considerations that underpin trade negotiations directly from the experts: the first week of class will be held in the relevant government agencies, as well as in the ILO DC Office and law firms. These discussions will give students the opportunity to learn from, and engage with, legal experts while deepening their understanding of the real-world challenges. Second, the students will spend the weekend in mock negotiations, where they will persuasively negotiate labor provisions in trade agreements and debate the need (if any) for new worker rights protections. The course will conclude with a series of online discussions in which students will be tasked to draft and debate position points concerning the utility of trade agreements to protect worker rights.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
Not available at this time.
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