VOLUME 2                                                   SPRING 2022                                                 ISSUE 1

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The Syin & Sern Law Review

ARTICLE

FAST FASHION, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND TRADE: TOWARDS CREATING A HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRIC FASHION THROUGH TRADE LAW

Aishwarya Ramkumar^        Adyasha Das*

DOI

To be updated. 

Abstract

This essay throws light on the exploitative nature of international fast fashion brands and how they often treat their workers in inhumane ways. In this light, we seek to discuss solutions to these human rights violations. Two possible solutions are proposed in the realm of international trade law that can help minimize or prevent such exploitation of workers. The first approach is a labeling regime where products manufactured free of worker exploitation will receive a human rights friendly label. In the second approach, we discuss a ban on all products which do not conform with human rights standards. We will discuss the feasibility of both these approaches.

©2021 The Author(s). Published by Syin & Sern on behalf of the Syin & Sern Law Review. This is an open-access article under the CC BY license. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

­ Aishwarya Ramkumar is a final year student from Jindal Global Law School. She can be reached out at aish25899@gmail.com.

* Adyasha Das is a final year student from Jindal Global Law School. She can be reached out at dasadyasha99@gmail.com.

[1.] Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (3rd ed., 2008).

[2] Aruna Kashyap, When Clothing Labels Are a Matter of Life or Death, Human Rights Watch (May 2, 2018, 9:21 AM EDT), https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/02/when-clothing-labels-are-matter-life-or-death.

[3] Global Labour Justice, Gender-Based Violence in GAP Garment Supply Chain – Worker Voices from the Global Supply Chain: A Report to the ILO 2018 (2018), available at https://globallaborjustice.org/handm-gbv/

[4] Kashyap, supra note 2.

[5] Kate Hodal, Abuse is daily reality for female garment workers for Gap and H&M, says report, The Guardian (June 5, 2018), https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jun/05/female-garment-workers-gap-hm-south-asia.

[6] Global Labour Justice, Gender-Based Violence in GAP Garment Supply Chain – Worker Voices from the Global Supply Chain: A Report to the ILO 2018 (2018), available at https://www.globallaborjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/GBV-Gap-May-2018.pdf.

[7] The Guardian, Abuse is a daily reality for female garment workers for Gap and H&M, says the report, June 5, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jun/05/female-garment-workers-gap-hm-south-asia.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Lorand Bartels, Trade and Human Rights in Oxford Handbooks Online 573 (Oxford University Press, 2018).

[11] General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, October 30 1947, 61 Stat. A-11, 55 U.N.T.S. 194 (henceforth GATT) art. XX.

[12] Report of the Appellate Body, United States – Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Product (May 16, 2012, adopted on June 13, 2012) (henceforth, US Tuna-II).

[13] Report of the Appellate Body, European Communities – Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products, (May 22, 2014, adopted on June 18, 2014) (henceforth, EC-Seals).

[14] This Measure-Is very similar to the one in US Tuna-II and is based around it.

[15] UDHR, December 10, 1948, 17 A (III) art. 23-25; ICCRP, December 16, 1966, 2200A (XXI) art. 10(1); ICESCR, December 16, 1976, 2200A (XXI) art. 10.

[16] International Trade Law Framework, including the GATT, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement, etc.

[17] U.S Tuna- II, ¶5.1.

[18] Id., at ¶4.

[19] Id., ¶5.15.

[20] Id., ¶5.2.

[21] Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, 1868 U.N.T.S. 120 (henceforth, TBT), art. 2.1.

[22] TBT, annexure 1.1.

[23] US-Tuna II, ¶202. See, Appellate Body Report, United States — Measures Affecting the Production and Sale of Clove Cigarettes, (April 4, 2012, adopted on April 24, 2012) ¶87. (Henceforth, US- Clove Cigarettes).

[24] Malcolm Shaw, Chapter 4, in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 3rd ed., 2014).

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Id.

[28]Yoram Dinstein, The Erga Omnes Applicability of Human Rights 30 ARCHIV Des Völkerrechts 1(1992).

[29] US-Tuna II, ¶183.

[30] Id., ¶12.

[31] Id., ¶ 180.

[32] Id.

[33] Id., ¶ 198.

[34] Id.

[35]European Communities–Trade Description of Sardines, (26 September, 2002, adopted on 23 October, 2002) ¶ 176 (henceforth, EC-Sardines).

[36] Id.

[37] Id.

[38] WTO Analytical Index, TBT Agreement – Article 2 (Jurisprudence), 9. https:// www.w to.org/english/res_e/publications_e/ai17_e/tbt_art2_jur.pdf.

[39] US – Clove Cigarettes, ¶107-112, 121-160.

[40] World Trade Organization, WTO rules and environmental policies: key GATT disciplines, available at  https://www.wto.or g/english/tratop_e/envir_e/envt_rules_gatt_e.htm.

[41] Id.

[42] John Polak, Trade as an Environmental Policy Tool? GEN, Ecolabeling and Trade, WTO Public Symposium Challenges Ahead on the Road to Cancun 5 (2003).

[43] See, European Communities — Measures Affecting Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos (September 18, 2000, adopted on 5 April, 2001).

[44] US- Tuna II, ¶7.2.

[45] Id., ¶7.2.

[46] GATT, art. XX.

[47] GATT, art. XX (a).

[48] GATT, art. XX (b).

[49] GATT, art. XI.

[50] GATT, art. XX (a).

[51] Appellate Body Report- United States – Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services (April 7, 2005, adopted on April 20, 2005) ¶296.

[52] Id., ¶79.

[53] Id., ¶79.

[54] United Nations Treaty Collection, Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General, https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ParticipationStatus.aspx?clang=_en.

[55] Shaw, supra note 24.

[56] Id.

[57] Id.

[58] Id.

[59] Dinstein, supra note 28.

[60] Supra note 13, ¶2.141.

[61] Id., ¶5.3.2.3.

[62] Appellate Body Report- Columbia Measures Relating to the Importation of Textiles, Apparel and Footwear (June 7, 2016, adopted on June 22, 2016).

[63] EC-Seals, ¶5.3.3.2- 5.3.2.5.

[64] Id., ¶5.179

[65] Id., ¶5.180; see also, Appellate Body Report-Brazil — Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres, (December 3, 2007, adopted on December 17, 2007) ¶145-157. (henceforth, Brazil – Retreaded Tyres).

[66] Id., ¶5.180; see also, Brazil – Retreaded Tyres, ¶150- 151.

[67] Id., ¶5.180

[68] Id., ¶ 5.262.

[69] Id., ¶ 5.270.

[70] Id., ¶ 5.272.

[71] Appellate Body Report- United States — Import Prohibition of Certain Shrimp and Shrimp Products (Oct. 12, 1998, November 6, 1998).

[72] This is different from the situation in EC Seal where the measure was applied with exceptions granted to indigenous communities, travellers, etc.

[73] EC-Seals, ¶5.320.

[74] Id., ¶5.333.