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Title: Symbolic regulation : human rights provisions in preferential trade agreements
Author: Peacock, Claire
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 6977
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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While the multilateral trading system views human and labour rights issues as outside of its remit, states increasingly incorporate regulation in these areas into their bilateral reciprocal preferential trade agreements, "HR-PTAs. This dissertation investigates the emergence of HR-PTAs, testing alternative explanations derived from conventional "public interest" and "private interest" theories of regulation against a new theory of "symbolic regulation." According to the public interest theory of regulation, regulation is motivated by benevolent legislators' commitment to correcting market or social problems. The private interest theory of regulation instead views regulation as the result of private interest groups capturing the regulatory apparatus in order to regulate in their own self-interest. Unlike its counterparts, the symbolic theory of regulation suggests that regulation may also be created for the primary purpose of reassuring regulatory advocates that their demands have been heard, rather than to regulate a given issue area. This dissertation argues that for the states behind them, HR-PTAs are primarily a symbolic form of regulation. Legislators create HR-PTAs to appease domestic human and labour rights organizations, while defending their trade interests through the non-enforcement of their provisions. Using longitudinal network analysis to analyse original data from 415 preferential trade agreements in force from 1989 to 2009, paired with case study evidence from the EU, US, and Canada, this dissertation finds support for the symbolic regulation explanation of HR-PTAs. It shows that a state's commitment to HR-PTAs depends less on the public interest or the desires of private interest groups than on its need to accommodate human and labour rights advocates. Symbolic regulation however should not be dismissed. It sets precedents, creates policy space, facilitates softer forms of cooperation, and can fuel political accountability politics. When this occurs, states may use HR-PTAs or other forms of symbolic regulation to achieve their seeming purpose.
Supervisor: Snidal, Duncan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International Trade ; Human Rights ; Labour Rights ; Symbolic Regulation ; Regulation Theory ; Statistical Network Analysis ; Public Interest Groups ; Non-Trade Issues