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Journal of Economic Integration 2009 December;24(4) :634-660.
Economic Rights and Regional Integration: Considering the EU and ASEAN Charters within the Perspective of Global Regional Integration

Ali M. El-Agraa 

Fukuoka University
Copyright ©2009 Journal of Economic Integration

The paper is confined to addressing the question of whether a relationship exists between ‘economic rights’ and ‘regional integration’; confined because the title has several manifestations and interpretations. I categorically assert that there is not: regional integration is governed by WTO's Article XXIV, which is utterly silent on ‘economic rights’, or for that matter ‘human rights’; human rights being the basic rights to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law. I find that the EU is the only regional integration scheme that has been endeavouring to give economic rights a legally-binding basis, but this will not happen fully even when the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified, due to the enactment not being embracive since Poland and the UK have opt-out protocols; thus rendering the term regional integration somewhat meaningless within this context. This, however should not distract from the fact that the EU has been able to make progress with and achieve the promotion of human rights in areas where single member state efforts have been to no avail; feats that would otherwise not have been possible without the creation of a single European state. The implications of this for the yet-to-be-ratified ASEAN Charter are briefly tackled where they are pertinent within the EU context.

JEL Classification: F13, F15, I00, P00, Z00

Keywords: regional integration | human rights | economic rights | WTO rules
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