Trading On Our Future: How The World Trade Organization is Destroying The World Environment

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Paschke, Steven
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Globalization has become a very common topic for debate after the 1990's. Discussions over who it benefits and who it hurts, and to what magnitude have become commonplace throughout the world. And like any other widespread phenomenon, globalization has found its staunch proponents but has also come under fire on a number of fronts. Criticisms range from discussions of labor rights, child workers, popular democracy and national sovereignty, to the environment. One of the most visible forces in the current movement of globalization is the World Trade Organization, tasked with lowering barriers to trade between all member countries. Because of the WTO's visibility, it receives the vast majority of the criticisms of globalization, a concept clearly visible in the demonstrations at the Seattle Ministerial Meeting of 1999. While many of the criticisms of the World Trade Organization are well researched and make very valid points, some are very uninformed. One of the most misunderstood aspects of the WTO is its effect on the environment. Critics claim that the WTO is antienvironment and that it will remove any environmental protection laws in a member country if it needs to in order to protect free trade. Unfortunately, this is not quite the case, as the World Trade Organization allows for an almost unlimited amount of environmental protection, allowing for only a few exceptions. However, while environmentalists are incorrect in their assumptions about how the WTO effects the environment, their overall assumption, that the WTO is harmful to the environment, is correct. This paper will hopefully clear up some of the confusion on how the World Trade Organization is detrimental to the environment and how it is not. The World Trade Organization is not harmful to the environment in terms of its trade policies or internal rulings, contrary to popular belief. However, by its broader goal of promoting economic growth within member states, it is causing far-reaching environmental destruction. This distinction is important to understand for any valid criticisms of the WTO to be taken seriously, and even more important to comprehend if any changes are to be made to protect the world's environmental condition.
43 p.
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