Since the arrival of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 a number of side agreements have also been negotiated that seek further rationalization of the emerging global economy. Prominent among these is the agreement on trade‐related intellectual property rights (TRIPS). Enforcement of the TRIPS agreement would involve the multilateral trade sanctions mechanism of the WTO. By contrast, proponents advocating a parallel international agreement guaranteeing adequate protections for workers – trade‐related international labor standards (TRILS) – have not met with success. This paper examines how traditional justificatory arguments for the property rights might apply to the question of workers’ rights in the international economy. It is found that such arguments apply quite well to the right of access to a “decent living”. It is then investigated how a TRILS agreement administered and enforced by the WTO's disputes settlements mechanism might advance these rights.
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