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Chinese women after the accession to the world trade organization: A legal perspective on women's labor rights

By Julien Burda


The World Trade Organization's law is a potentially powerful instrument for improving the labor rights of Chinese working women, if it is complemented by a broad global and multilateral approach. In contrast to much of the writing on core labor standards, this contribution is based on legal analyses, exploring what is possible, practical, and desirable in terms of WTO law. This paper seeks to assess whether the WTO could be used to pressure the Chinese government to improve women's labor rights. Trade sanctions, even if they fulfill the stringent conditions to be justified under WTO law, do not appear to be the best strategy. The incentive approach, based on both the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) unilateral scheme and bilateral agreements, appears to be the best solution for improving women's labor rights. Any use of this tool must complement a global and multilateral approach, including better vertical and horizontal cooperation, among other international organizations and civil society.Labor rights, WTO law, women's rights, JEL Codes: J8, J83, K33,

DOI identifier: 10.1080/13545700701439481
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