Human Rights and Trade: Beyond the “Spotlight”

Academic Article


  • Human rights concerns figure prominently on the global economic agenda. Yet little empirical analysis has addressed the prospective impact of human rights for global economic interactions. To gain insight into this linkage, we assess the empirical relationship between human rights and an important facet of the global economy, dyadic trade flows. Traditional arguments posit that respect for human rights and trade are uncomfortable bedfellows at best, and that repression may provide a foundation for increased trade activity. We posit that, alternatively, respect for human rights and trade may be a pragmatic coupling. In addition to the normative value of promoting and protecting human rights, there may be a “business case” as there are ways in which respect for human rights may encourage trade. Using a cross-sectional time-series research design, we test the relationship between human rights and trade for the years 1989--2000. Our results show that human rights conditions have a significant influence on dyadic trade.
  • Author List

  • Blanton RG; Blanton SL
  • Start Page

  • 97
  • End Page

  • 117
  • Volume

  • 33
  • Issue

  • 2