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This study explores a potential labor dimension for the FTAA. The study is divided into four parts: Part 1 provides context by reviewing the history of Inter-American economic cooperation, especially on labor and trade. Part 2 examines how labor has been addressed in the major free trade agreements of the Americas. Part 3 looks at the normative basis for international labor cooperation. Part 4 makes specific recommendations for addressing labor issues in the FTAA. The ideas in Part 4 seek to stimulate practical, concerted action to address labor and employment problems of regional economic integration. My recommendations for the FTAA do not include an obligation to adhere to core ILO conventions. However one weighs the advantages and disadvantages of that course, such fusion is unlikely to be accepted by FTAA governments. As for the reciprocal obligation to enforce national law, it should be omitted unless governments are willing to replace the current window dressing with a private right of action. Contemporary FTAs seem designed to assist global corporations and devote little attention to those without power or wealth. If governments were to get serious about helping vulnerable workers, then such action could help to humanize trade agreements and lead to more widely shared prosperity.

GW Paper Series

GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 140; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 140

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