Labor rights as special cases of the sustainability chapters – how to strengthen their enforceability?

This years’ public WTO Forum will be the place to analyse and discuss the broader issues behind mere trade related questions. Trade policies affect more and more the daily lives of citizens/voters and are therefore part of the political democratic discourses in societies. Recent political developments, including the decision of the UK to leave the EU and the election of Mr. Trump as President of the USA, are indicative of significant disillusionment even in these richer countries with the effects of globalisation which has been driven in recent years by bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements. We therefore propose a discussion how such agreements have affected the welfare and security of workers and how far they have contributed, or can contribute, to a decent work agenda.

We will stimulate a discussion between experts on practical solutions for supporting decent work in trade agreements. This will include a discussion of how far labour clauses have been successful in promoting employees' rights and in countering perceived negative effects of liberalisation, how far such clauses can be improved to make them more effective, how far other elements of trade agreements are relevant to decent work and how far other policy areas rather than trade alone are important for ensuring that benefits from international economic integration are distributed widely and fairly.


  • Martin Myant (Senior Researcher and Head of Unit European Economic, Employment and Social Policy, European Trade Union Institute)
  • Deborah James (Director of International Programs, Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR))
  • Helmut Scholz (Member of the European Parliament, DIE LINKE., GUE/NGL)
  • Alicia Puyana Mutis (Professor of Economics, FLASCO Mexico)
  • Adrian Smith (Professor of Human Geography, Queen Mary University London)

Faciliator: Roland Kulke (Project Manager, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Brussels)