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The Legality of Trade Sanctions Based on Human Rights Violations: An Analysis Through Law and Economics

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18836/2178-0587/ealr.v3n2p260-280



Gustavo F. Ribeiro1


Resumo: Podem os Estados adotar medidas retaliatórias unilaterais ou coletivas em caso de violações extraterritoriais de direitos humanos? O debate é muitas vezes obscurecido por um conjunto de argumentos jurídicos, políticos, econômicos e morais que produzem mal-entendidos. Enquanto se explora essa questão, este trabalho se desenvolve em três partes. Primeiro, usando-se a análise jurídica tradicional, demonstra-se que os Estados não adotaram qualquer doutrina robusta que os permitam aplicar medidas restritivas ao comércio em resposta a violações de direitos humanos ocorridas fora de seu território. Segundo, usa-se a metodologia de alocação de jurisdição regulatória - e seus respectivos custos (de soberania e de cognição) - para explicar porque estas doutrinas chegam ao mesmo ponto. Terceiro, defende-se que, em função dos custos apontados, a defesa dos direitos humanos em conexão com o comércio internacional ganha força em outras vias, como códigos voluntários de conduta, certificação social e rotulagem.

Palavras-chave: Comércio Internacional; OMC; Direitos Humanos; Direito e Economia; Sanções.


Abstract: Are states entitled to take unilateral or collective trade measures in cases of extraterritorial human rights violations? The debate is often blurred by a multitude of legal, political, economic, and moral arguments that have produced misunderstandings. While exploring the above issue, this paper unfolds in three parts. First, using traditional legal analysis, I demonstrate that states have not embraced any robust doctrine permitting states to apply restrictive trade measures as countermeasures against human rights violations abroad. Second, I use the framework of allocation of regulatory jurisdiction (ARJ) and its respective costs (sovereignty and cognitive) to explain why the rules across those doctrinal branches reach the same end point. Third, I argue that, because of those costs, human rights advocacy in connection with international trade gains traction in other ways, such as voluntary codes of conduct, social certification, and labeling.

Key words: International Trade; WTO; Human Rights; Law and Economics; Sanctions.


1 Centro Universitário de Brasília – UniCeuB. E-mail: gribeirobr@gmail.com.


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