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School of Geography


  • Presentation to World Trade Organization Public Forum 2017 session on “Labor Rights as Special Cases of the Sustainability Chapters - How to Strengthen their Enforceability?” in Geneva, September 2017. Presentation by Professor Adrian Smith available here: Do Labour Provisions in EU Trade Agreements Improve Workers’ Lives and Working Conditions Around the World? [PDF 846KB] (slides) and audio (starts at 6 mins 7 sec).
  • Can trade and investment agreements promote decent work?

    Presentation of three research projects and a roundtable discussion

    • How to assess the impact of trade and investment agreements on decent work, Martin Myant, Senior Researcher and Head of Unit European Economic, Employment and Social Policy, ETUI
    • Do labour provisions in trade agreements reach workers and improve working conditions around the world? Adrian Smith, Professor of Human Geography, Queen Mary University of London
    • Labour clauses in trade agreements: worker protection or protectionism? Damian Raess, Assistant Professor University of Bern and University of Reading and Dora Sari, research fellow at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard University
    • Roundtable discussion on future of trade agreements and trade union approaches to them, with Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary
    12 September 2017, European Economic and Social Committee, Rue Van Maerlant 2, 1040 Brussels, Room VM3; 13h-14h30
  • Labour Rights and UK Trade Agreements: A Policy Seminar

    Bronte Room, British Library, 96 Euston Rd, Kings Cross, London NW1 2DB
    Tuesday 4th July 4-6pm followed by a drinks reception

    Please register here (spaces limited)

    The UK has triggered Article 50. How might different EU-UK arrangements impact on the protection of labour rights? And if the UK does leave the EU Customs Union, how should labour rights be addressed in future UK trade agreements?

    Dr James Harrison from the University of Warwick and colleagues discuss lessons for UK trade policy arising from a major research project analysing labour standards provisions in EU trade agreements. Rosa Crawford from the Trades Union Congress and Paul Keenleyside from the Trade Justice Movement will then provide their perspectives on the best way forward for the UK. Audience participation is very much encouraged.      

    Key questions will include:

    • What are the reasons for, and risks of, including labour rights in trade agreements?
    • Will labour rights play an important role in a post-Brexit UK-EU agreement?
    • What can we learn from the experience of the EU or USA in including labour rights in trade agreements?
    • What should a labour rights agenda look like in UK trade policy? What should it aim to achieve? And what might be its inherent limitations?
    • Should labour rights be included in unilateral as well as bilateral trading arrangements?

    This policy seminar originates from research project entitled ‘Working Beyond the Border: European Union Trade Agreements and International Labour Standards’ funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The seminar is funded by the Warwick Impact Fund. The project team is: Professor Adrian Smith, Dr Liam Campling and Dr Mirela Barbu from Queen Mary University of London, and Dr James Harrison and Dr Ben Richardson from the University of Warwick.

  • Policy Seminar: Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters in EU Trade Agreements: Can current limitations be overcome? Thursday 2nd March 2017, 16.00-18.00, University of Warwick Brussels Office
    Our policy seminar will present recent research findings which highlight the limitations in the functioning of labour provisions in trade and sustainable development chapters (TSD chapters) in EU trade agreements. The researchers will set out the aims of the TSD chapters and explain the key problems in achieving them. This will provide the basis for a discussion between all seminar participants about possible ways of overcoming the limitations that have been identified.

Key questions for discussion will include:

  • What results and impacts have the monitoring and dialogue mechanisms within the TSD chapters achieved so far? Can they function more effectively in the future? Can the role of civil society become more significant?
  • To what extent can:
    (1) increased prioritisation of TSD chapters by key actors;
    (2) better resourcing of the TSD chapters' key functions;
    (3) greater enforceability of provisions; and/or
    (4) better recognition of the different issues faced in different trading partner contexts overcome current limitations?
  • Do we have to look beyond the 'TSD chapter' model to ensure that the social dimensions of EU FTAs are appropriately addressed?

This policy seminar originates from an ESRC-funded research project entitled ''Working Beyond the Border: European Union Trade Agreements and International Labour Standards.''

The project team are Dr. James Harrison and Dr. Ben Richardson from the University of Warwick and Dr. Mirela Barbu, Dr. Liam Campling and Professor Adrian Smith from Queen Mary University of London.  

  • ‘Working Beyond the Border: European Union Trade Agreements and Labour Standards’, Presentation  at Yonsei University, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul, 21 January 2016
  • ‘Working beyond the border?: European Union trade (and investment?) agreements and labour standards’, workshop on Rethinking International Investment Law: Civic Advocacy, Representation and Participation in the International Investment Regime, an International Economic Law in Context Workshop, 3 – 4 May 2016, University of Warwick.
  • ‘Towards responsible global trade? Global value chains and labour standards in the European Union free trade agreements’, European Urban and Regional Studies conference, Chania, Crete, Greece, September 2016, and workshop on Global Production Networks and Social Upgrading: Labour and Beyond workshop, University of Manchester, May 2016.
  • ‘Governing labour standards through the European Union’s trade agreements: civil society and the limits of dialogue and cooperative engagement’, paper presented at Governance and Economic Integration through Free Trade Agreements workshop, Brussels, July 2016.
  • ‘EU Free Trade Agreements and global value chains’, paper presented at Governance and Economic Integration through Free Trade Agreements workshop, Brussels, July 2016.
  • ‘Labour provisions in the European Union-Republic of Moldova Association Agreement’, International Labour Organisation seminar on Labour Provisions in Trade Agreements: Design, Implementation and Stakeholder Involvement, European Economic and Social Committee, Brussels, December 2016.
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