TED Conversations

Sherry Mattice

Canadian Federation of University Women

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Should governments consider human rights when granting preferential trading agreements to countries?

Many governments overlook human rights in trading agreements particularly the Preferential Trading Agreements.
Are there ways to enforce human rights in PTAs?


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  • Oct 20 2012: Consider, yes. Dictate policy? Probably not. We tend to encounter the law of unintended consequences when we act in a dogmatic, rigid fashion. What if engagement moves the offender towards enlightenment? What if sanctions further harm the victims we're ostensibly trying to protect? Does the historical culture of a region provide justification for abuses? Who decides what constitutes abuse as opposed to culture? There are both the Christians and the Muslims, men and women, who consider elements within a relationship to be mandated by their religious beliefs, while others consider them to be abusive. It's fairly easy to condemn behavior with which we disagree. On the other hand, it's also easy to stand by and do nothing. I think the bottom line is blend of the pragmatic with the ethical.

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