Instances of international coherence in the international social and economic order: The integration of trade and labour considerations

It is a well-accepted principle of international law that states are presumed to undertake their international obligations in good faith so they can all be implemented without conflict. Ideally, each state acts as one unified legal entity, simultaneously respecting all obligations to all the international organisations it is part to, coherently, without leading to situations of legal awkwardness. Why, then, would some argue that there is a need to address social or labour issues in the World Trade Organization (WTO) if these are already addressed by the International Labour Organization (ILO)? If members were coherent in their commitments to the respective international organisations, then surely there would be no need to have the WTO deal with labour issues. However, such a perfect model is nowhere to be found and this has given rise to the ‘trade and…’ debate concerning the need to have trade actions that also respect other policies, of which ‘trade and labour’, the subject of this chapter, is an extension.

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