The paper explores the relationship between trade liberalisation and regulation as developed through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and human rights principles and discourses. It suggests that human rights could be used to enhance the legitimacy of the WTO, although most of the organisation's supporters prefer it to remain self-contained, so that its obligations override general rules of international law including human rights. Contrary to the views of some critics of the WTO, its principles could be compatible with human rights discourses, either by (i)the re-assimilation of human rights discourses into a neo-liberal perspective of individual (and corporate) freedoms, or (ii) tempering the negative effects of liberalisation by encouraging measures for socio-economic provision, or perhaps (iii) challenging the assumptions of liberalisation to provide the basic for alternative perspectives. However, it concludes that such debates would be unhelpful, in exacerbating the gap between rhetorical conflicts and cogent, concrete policy alternatives
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