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Fair Trade Organizations: Building a Global Counter-Hegemonythat Supports Human Dignity


Ina globalizing world, how are the poor to improve their standard of living?When global capital is free to move to wherever it can receive the bestreturn on investment, how will individuals be able to avoid suffering fromthe race to the bottom as competing countries lure capital with cheap labour?In the future, global free trade pressures may define even state minimumwage laws to be non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade because they underminecorporate freedom to determine a market-based wage rate. In this situation,nations will have even less ability to legislate or maintain social welfareto ensure hope for the impoverished billions in the world.

Fordecades, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), retailers and consumershave formed networks to promote fair trade products. Simply, the consumers’goal in purchasing fair trade products is to ensure that those involvedin producing goods receive a living wage and benefit from improved workingand living conditions. By purchasing rugs or running shoes not producedin sweatshops, or coffee, tea or chocolate not grown, picked and processedby slave or impoverished labour, consumers try to encourage businessesto improve working conditions and wages by demonstrating that they willpay higher prices for higher production standards, in effect reversingthe drive towards hyper-efficiency inherent in free market capitalism.Because domestic minimum wage and labour standards legislation in manydeveloping countries are lacking or ineffective in the global race to thebottom, and because there are no effective global enforcement measuresof International Labor Organization (ILO) standards, civil society hasessentially developed an alternative trade system whereby consumers abandontheir “rational” choice to find the cheapest products available. Instead,they pay a social or moral premium for products that are certified as fairlytraded. Various fair trade certifying and labeling organizations have beendeveloped to provide standardized monitoring of production based on morallyinformed criteria.

Buthow effective is the fair trade movement at improving the standard of livingfor the poorest billions of people in the world? Certainly the movementis still young and in time it may significantly alter the global incomedisparity, but there is considerable debate about the effectiveness ofthis movement and whether it will be the most effective method of addressingsystemic human suffering. Ultimately, the core issue is that the fair trademovement, though potentially profoundly effective at improving workingpeople’s lives in a global free market, is likely not able to address thesystemic aspects of global capitalism that will continue to impoverishbillions and sustain a wide and potentially ever-growing disparity of incomebetween the rich and the poor.

Toexamine the extent of the fair trade movement’s ability to address humansuffering, it is important to examine the nature of the movement, fromits origins to its present and likely future scope of influence, as wellas the morality and goals underpinning its existence, and some key nationaland international organizations (IOs) involved in the movement. It is thenimportant to explore the effect fair trade has had on the world in recentyears. Then it is worth examining arguments why the movement has or hasnot been effective and likely will or will not be effective in the future.Proponents of various paradigms of political philosophy (liberal, feminist,environmentalist, Gramscian, dependency theory, world systems theory) wouldsupport the thesis that the fair trade movement can achieve meaningfulresults to alleviate human economic and social suffering. However, membersof other paradigms (realist, Marxist) can soundly criticize the movementby pointing out limits to its widespread success. Further, there are alternativemovements that may ultimately be more successful at improving the livingand working conditions of the poor.

Whatexactly is the fair trade movement? It is an attempt to exchange “goodsbased on principles of economic and social justice”[1]Oxfam has pursued fair trade commerce “to overcome poverty by enablingpoor producers or workers to access the market in ways which enable themto obtain a fair return for the goods they grow or make.”[2]Operating now in more than 100 countries, Oxfam is an international non-governmentalorganization (INGO) that works with many producers who are independent,self-employed workers paid by piece rate, while many other fair trade suppliersare organized into unions.[3]The Fair Trade Federation in the United States is an umbrella organizationof fair trade producers, wholesalers and retailers who have pledged topay fair wages [based on the local economic context], “provide equal opportunities”,encourage employment of the “most disadvantaged”, “engage in environmentallysustainable practices, build long-term trade relationships, provide healthyand safe working conditions, [and] provide financial and technical assistanceto workers whenever possible.”[4]

RoseBenz Ericson thoroughly summarizes the many economic and social advantagesto producers who participate in fair trade markets. Around the world, fairtrade organizations (FTOs) (or alternative trade organizations (ATOs))can be either for-profit or non-profit, wholesalers or retailers, or churches,catalog producers or websites. They attempt to ensure the price to producerswill “cover material and labor costs, … [and] improve the standard of livingof workers, their families, cooperatives and communities,” particularlythrough “increased income to feed, clothe, shelter, educate and providehealth care for their families; [provide] access to loans to buy land,livestock and materials; training and technical assistance; ownership ofthe means of production; and respect for their cultural traditions andnative environments.” Other advantages to producers often include safe,dignified and democratically run work environments, community developmentin appropriate technology, development of “environmentally sound businesspractices,” support for indigenous talents and traditions, leading to adecrease in urban migration[5]with all its attendant problems.

Further,retailers and wholesalers will often prepay for goods and embark on long-termcontracts to minimize the cash flow volatility from the uncertainty producersare faced with when at the mercy of a highly competitive global market.Fair trade producers also benefit from long-term relationships as theycan communicate with retailers to revise their product designs for specificor varying markets, or smooth logistics inefficiencies, develop bookkeepingand marketing skills to expand domestic markets and reduce their relianceon foreign customers.[6]

Retailersmarket not only fair trade products (“coffee, tea, food products, homefurnishings, clothing, jewelry, toys and crafts”) but they also marketthe moral ideology of the movement to consumers by providing informationabout producers, their working and living conditions and FTO structureitself,[7]sometimes even using promotional material developed by fair trade producersin developing countries.[8]While independently produced handcrafted items comprise one kind of uniqueproducts available from FTOs, more traditionally commercially traded commoditieslike coffee are significant components of the fair trade movement.

FTOsoften try to reduce the middlemen involved in global trade to maximizethe funds available to producers. Coffee is a fine example of the valueof removing intermediaries. In 1975 and 2001, world coffee prices wereUS$0.50/pound. Between those years though, frost, drought, labour strikesand the 1989 end of export quotas mandated by the London-based InternationalCoffee Organization caused the price to fluctuate madly, reaching at timesover US$3.00/pound. The last half of the 1990s saw global coffee productiongrow on average 3.6% each year. Consumption, though, rose by less thanhalf that rate.[9]Volatility of prices and over-production undermine producers’ ability toplan, leaving them at the mercy of the global coffee commodities markets.Fair trade retailers and wholesalers, however, pledge to pay a floor pricefor beans, currently at US$1.26/pound,[10]with a premium to match the global market price whenever it happens toexceed that price,[11]and a further premium if the coffee meets certified organic standards.[12]Fair trade purchasing injects welcomed stability for coffee producers.

Certificationby independent monitoring groups ensures for the fair trade consumer thatthe product meets their moral standards. Until the late 1990s, differentcountries developed various certifying and labeling organizations. Fairtrade producers would pay fees for the certification process and the rightto display the fair trade logo on their products.[13]Since 1997, Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) has beenthe global umbrella organization to coordinate producer certification andmonitoring, maintain a list of all certified fair trade exporting producers,and coordinate the 17 domestic labeling member organizations.[14]

Inrecent years, global corporations have developed corporate codes of conductfor suppliers to offset public pressure about poor working conditions,sweatshops and economically enslaving wages down through their supply chains.Despite the public relations value of such codes, independent monitoringand verification is critical for consumer confidence in the integrity offair trade production processes. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has beencritical of corporate codes. The CCC is “a network of coalitions—made upof non-governmental organizations, trade unions, human rights organizations,solidarity groups and researchers—that aims to improve working conditionsin the global garment industry.”[15]The CCC asserts that many of these corporate codes are “vaguely defined,incomplete, not implemented or monitored, and not independently verified.”[16]Just like FLO, the CCC works to harmonize labour standards from diverseinterest groups. They have tried to develop consensus on a model code thatreflects European and Asian input where diverse stakeholders would be ableto “speak with one voice to the companies and to show that a large numberof people do agreethat workers have these rights” (emphasis in original).[17]

TheCCC’s code contains four areas. Section one describes the scope of thecode, the context in which it rests and the developers’ expectations ofthe code as just one tool of many in a toolbox. Section two lists corelabour standards involving “child labour, forced or bonded labour, discrimination,freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining plus provisionson hours of work, living wage, health and safety and job security.” Sectionthree describes expectations of how companies are to implement the code,including translation and distribution, while section four asserts “principlesfor independent verification” that include collecting information reportsfrom accredited independent organizations and local worker organizations.[18]

Incontrast to the usually unionized garment industries that the CCC addresses,Oxfam has developed monitoring procedures that would be more appropriatefor its many independent craft workers. Part of their focus was to workwith producers themselves in a participatory monitoring process that theyfound to be more effective than an audit model.[19]Oxfam also had additional motivations in a monitoring process. They wantedto include producers in the process to help them understand and track advancesin their local development.[20]They also wanted to expand the notion of monitoring from a business efficiencymodel to more of a social development model[21]in part because they found that top-down monitoring wouldn’t be successfulif it is designed merely to meet the needs of those wishing to do the monitoring.Monitoring must benefit those being monitored for it to be effective andsustainable.[22]

Withall the potential benefits the fair trade regime offers, is it successful?All of the FTO goals and priorities reviewed above have been met in numerousexamples on all impoverished continents. According to the InternationalFederation for Alternative Trade (IFAT), fair trade transactions accountedfor $400 million in global sales in 1999.

Co-opAmerica, an NGO that encourages consumer and investor mobilization forsocial change documents many fair trade successes. North America and PacificRim 2002 fair trade sales topped US$250 million, up over 37% from 2001.“Certified Fair Trade coffee demonstrated the greatest growth of any singleFair Trade product, with sales increasing by 54%, from…2001, to…2002.”The group also reports an increase in consumer desire to deal directlywith fair trade producers and an increase in consumer awareness of globalproduction.[23]

Chaptersthree and four of Kelly-Kate Pease’s International Organizationsprovide useful summaries of the main paradigms of political philosophyas they apply to IOs. Using her framework, it is easy to see which paradigmssupport the value of FTOs and which minimize their significance. The liberalperspective is validated in the fair trade movement. Civil society groupsand socially-conscious consumers, acting without the need of traditionalmarkets, state governments or inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) havetaken advantage of growing networks to develop a system parallel to market-optimizingcapitalism. We live in a world where IGOs like the UN’s International LaborOrganization (ILO) have not been able to achieve 100% state ratificationon even core labour standards. Clearly, civil society is networked enoughto bypass states and IGOs that cannot meet our needs for moral standardsin international trade. Indeed, in a world where IGOs like the World Bank(WB), International Monetary fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization(WTO) are assaulting nations’ prerogative to enact NTBs, FTOs can be successfulprecisely because they are voluntary trading relationships over which thosefree trade IGOs have no sway.

Theglobal fair trade regime clearly demonstrates that nonstate actors areimportant in the world as well as state actors. Further, domestic manifestationsof the global fair trade regime demonstrate that the state is not unitedin its affairs, nor can it always behave rationally. When an impoverishedcountry chooses (or is forced) to allow slave wages to further impoverishits citizens, rationality is undermined. Further socially conscious traderegimes demonstrate the importance of conflict and cooperation in the operationof international relations. First world consumers sacrifice (albeit marginally)bargains for the social good of others who live far away.

Theliberal notion of moral interdependence is a fundamental tenet of the globalfair trade regime. Fair trade ameliorates the traditionally low politicsissues of social and economic development, which has security implicationsif a large proportion of impoverished populations can earn a more stableliving wage; security threats can diminish. Liberals characterize regimeand norm creation through functionalism, a gradualist approach to changein the world. The fair trade movement is a hallmark of that process. Whileliberal institutionalists see IGOs as making significant contributionsto order in international relations, they should acknowledge how civilsociety-based IOs like FTOs and ATOs create stabilizing linkages in theworld. Liberals see IOs as having the potential to develop shared normsand values. FTOs exist precisely to develop shared global norms that respectthe dignity of those we trade with. Liberals who view IOs as a means ofhelping the poor in the world should recognize that FTOs began primarilythrough charitable and religious NGOs, thus validating their view.

Thefeminist paradigm of political philosophy can also claim validation withthe global fair trade regime. While global capital often cooperates withelites in societies where women have not traditionally been economicallyempowered, fair trade systems have great potential to improve the opportunitiesof marginalized members of societies including women.[24]Since many NGOs working in low politics issue areas have larger proportionsof female volunteers and employees than high politics groups, FTOs provideopportunities for women to contribute to highly meaningful global change.Further, from feminist perspectives that consider typically masculine traitsdominate the global systems of conflict inherent in high politics, as FTOsgrow in global significance, more cooperative, nurturing norms can expandas an alternative model to zero-sum games in international relations.

Froman environmentalist perspective of political philosophy, FTOs clearly shine.Since our symbiotic global ecology cannot sustain the level of economicactivity of the countries that are already industrialized, encouragingthe majority world to meet our level of “progress” is foolish. FTOs enableproducers to avoid contributing to urbanization. Higher incomes in fairtrade provide economic incentive for producers to care for natural resources;they do not need to cut costs and squeeze all possible value out of theirenvironment just to survive. Further, FTOs also encourage producers todevelop organic and low ecological footprint economic activity.

TheGramscian perspective recognizes the value of FTOs’ attempts to developthrough civil society, a base of new norms and ideals that can accumulateinto a counterhegemonic force to challenge the often-unquestioned powerof the global capitalist hegemon. FTOs, like Gramscians, recognize howelites are co-opted by the hegemonic worldview to the detriment of impoverishedworkers throughout the developing world. Similar to Gramscian acknowledgementof FTOs’ paradigm, dependency theorists would have some affinity with theiroutlook. FTOs recognize the effect on humans of neocolonial capitalistimperialism that enforces a global underclass to provide cheap goods toenrich corporations and wealthy global consumers. By appealing to neitherthe global hegemonic order nor the comprador classes of developing countries,FTOs address the needs of the exploited and contribute to networks andlinkages that spread notions of an alternate norm. And as states performcost-benefit analyses, then act based on the wishes of the most powerful,FTOs need to work outside their framework to address the needs of the victimsof the dominant hegemonic order.

Finally,FTOs recognize world systems theorists’ explanatory paradigm in tryingto undermine core countries’ exploitation of peripheral states by enhancingthe standard of living of their workers. While newly industrialized countries(NICs) have formed a semi-periphery, the existence of that class of countriesis a tormenting lure to peripheral countries; the global capitalist systemcannot sustain all nations operating at economically dominant positions.If we used full-cost accounting practices to include all the environmentaland social externalities we cannot (or do not) measure, then “in 1994 corporationsin the United States were permitted to inflict $2.6 trillion worth of socialand environmental damage, or five times the value of their total profits.”[25]Clearly, our planet cannot sustain even more semi-peripheral countries.

Whileanecdotal and quantitative evidence asserts the merit of the fair traderegime, do the successes matter that much at all? Surely, helping thousandsof people out of poverty is immeasurably useful, but whither the remainingbillions? FTOs have grown immensely, especially in recent years with thedevelopment of the Internet, which has enhanced more meaningful and functionallinkages between industrialized country consumers and developing countryproducers. This educational process helps meet the FTO goal of developingunderstanding between those groups.[26]But do FTOs have the capacity to affect the lives of a majority of theworking poor in the world, or will they remain a marginal boon? The yearIFAT reported global fair trade sales of US$400 million, the total valueof goods traded globally was US$3.6 trillion;[27]fair trade represented just over 0.011% of global trade. Does future growthin fair trade have the potential to sufficiently to absorb the total globaltrade that is not yet fair?

Froma realist perspective, there is little likelihood of the global fair traderegime expanding to meet the living wage needs of the poorest billionson the planet. The mere fact that FTOs have developed outside the realmof states and IGOs indicates that their goals and motivations are not sharedby states and their IGOs in their quest for getting, keeping and usingpower. The state is the dominant actor. The state and its IGOs enact theircumulative national interests. FTOs work in opposition to states, reinforcingthe idea that states themselves do define the global playing field. Impoverishedstates that lure capital with cheap wages are merely exercising whateverpower they have to survive: in the global context, to earn foreign capital.These state choices reflect their rational cost-benefit analysis of variables,with living wage legislation losing to the need for foreign exchange atthe best possible terms. The realist perspective that the strong act tomaintain their power by controlling the weak is unquestionably apparentin the global free market capitalist system. Economically strong nationsuse their power their IGOs to establish, maintain and improve favourableterms of trade, which inevitably means that weaker states will suffer underasymmetric power relationships. Conflict reflects the reality of globalcapitalism and the environment in which states must act to survive. Insolvent,failed states can provide little structure for any wages, let alone livingwages.

Structuralrealist adherence to national self-help in a global system of anarchicinternational relations means developing nations should not depend on thelong-term reliability of FTOs who present a somewhat informal alliancewith workers. Socially conscious consumerism is a luxury many in the developedworld can afford. Granted, an increasing number of first world consumersare embracing ethical purchasing, but it is hard to imagine everyone inthe developed world committing to fair trade purchases. Further, economichardship in developed countries may undermine much of the gains FTOs havemade in recent decades, thereby leaving developing countries in the sameposition: self-help within global anarchy. Even state leaders with highlydeveloped social morals may still race to the bottom of low wages to lureinvestment. Traditional realists with Hobbesian pessimism recognize thereality that not all (and indeed perhaps ultimately few) make selflessconsumer choices.

FTOsseem to acknowledge the neorealist and neomercantilist view of the veryexistence of a politico-economic world order that is asymmetrically interdependent.States with dominant cash crops providing foreign currency must focus ondeveloping that means of global monetary survival. Hegemonic stabilitytheorists also recognize the asymmetric interdependence of internationalrelations. The great capitalist powers fresh from their defeat of mostof the communist nations representing the greatest opposition to free marketcapitalism have turned their IGOs’ (WB, IMF, WTO, FTAA, OECD, APEC, etc.)attention to impoverished countries to ask/lure/force them to compete witheach other for the cheapest labour. Poor countries that do not submit willbe isolated from global trade: monetary asphyxiation. Co-opting those nations’elites ensures their compliance with the dominant hegemonic ideal. Thefact that FTOs have established parallel trading networks means they havechosen not to participate within or challenge the hegemonic norms; FTOsare content to operate in the gaps. FTOs’ lack of relative global economicsignificance reflects the realist view that IOs operate to a marginal degreein the realm of low politics, without greatly affecting states’ behaviour.Indeed, FTOs intend to operate without needing to affect the governmentsof states they operate in.

Whilerealist views marginalize the effect and potential of FTOs to accomplishtheir goals on more than a marginal level, it is the varying critical viewsin the Marxist camp that ultimately present the strongest critique of theglobal fair trade regime’s ability to make any meaningful difference inthe lives of the world’s impoverished. Paradoxically, though, FTOs sharesome critical Marxist perspectives in their core presumptions. Like Marxists,FTOs recognize that high politics do not dominate low economics; rather,economics plays a primary role in the structure of global governance. FTOsalso recognize how capitalism requires a zero-sum, conflict-based gamethat necessarily oppresses or disadvantages many for the sake of the powerand wealth of the relatively few. Further, FTOs recognize how the dominantcapitalist IGOs perpetuate capitalist exploitation, particularly todayas the WB, IMF, and WTO and related free trade “agreements” pursue an agendaof dismantling domestic regulatory sovereignty in favour of unimpeded capitalflow. But since FTOs try to establish an alternate global fair trade regime,they are trying to create IOs that do not serve exploitative capitalism.But the core Marxist criticism of FTOs rests in the fact that FTOs stillsanction an economic system that is exploitative. Even if all the billionstrapped in non-fair trade employment can earn living wages, there is noguarantee that a zero-sum capitalist system will allow everyone to liveat a just, egalitarian standard of living. And even though FTOs like theEuropean Fair Trade Association can fundamentally oppose neo-liberal bodieslike the WTO by calling for a radical overhaul of its mandate,[28]FTOs continue to work within the capitalist system.

WhileFTOs may be trying to enact an antithesis to the capitalist thesis, theirgoal is not to arrive at anything beyond a modified capitalist global economicsystem. There is no expectation in FTOs that ultimately the wages thatfirst world high technology knowledge workers earn will be met by WestAfrican fair trade cooperative cocoa pickers. At the same time, there isno reason to expect free trade interests to passively watch themselvesbe marginalized by FTOs. Indeed, 15-year-old Pakistani former rug factorybonded labourer Iqbal Masih was murdered in 1995, arguably by rug capitalists,soon after winning the (dubious) Reebok Youth in Action award for his fouryears of activism against children in bonded labour.[29]Further, even if all other corporations adopt wage levels that fair tradeworkers enjoy, the reduction of their profitability will be negligible.While this is a compelling pillar of FTO arguments, this small level ofredistribution of wealth will not reverse oligopolistic, monopolistic orimperialistic capitalist tendencies that fuel radical global income disparity.“Trade, at present, is a feeble, often regressive means of distributingwealth between nations”;[30]in fact, trade may be a more effective means of acquisition than distribution.Further, higher wages may not guarantee that overproduction would cease;in fact, they may inspire overproduction.

Soultimately, if realists consider FTOs to be mostly impotent in forcingstates to act, and Marxists see FTOs as condoning an inherently exploitativesystem, what alternatives to FTOs would have a better chance of improvingthe lives of more of the suffering people in the world? Two routes maybe possible: to re-localizing (in essence, fighting and denying globalizationwith isolationism) or to democratize the globalizing process that is currentlydriving by unaccountable corporate interest.[31]This latter answer may lie in a re-visioning of the WTO, which has thepotential to be a more democratic organization than with the WB or theIMF because each member country has an equal vote, unlike the G-5 votingdominance in the WB and IMF. Additionally, improving the degree of democracyin the WTO’s agenda setting process from the strict domain of the USA,Canada, the EU and Japan would be a profound improvement.[32]Linking ILO standards to WTO trade enforcement could solve many or allof the systemic inequities that FTOs address. Since FTOs initially mobilizedto address unenforceable ILO conventions, using the WTO to enforce ILOstandards can apply all labour conditions to all WTO member countries,with the potential benefit of increasing ratification of ILO conventionsunder a climate of meaningful enforcement. Essentially, the WTO would beenforcing what is currently a voluntary fair trade certification process,which already works.[33]In fact, “there seems no justification for global regulation to protectproperty rights, while claiming that the same type of international regulationcannot operate to protect basic human and trade union rights.”[34]

Furthermore,entrenching ILO labour standards within WTO enforcement mechanisms canresult in an ironic re-regulation of the world. The current global freetrade movement opposes state social regulation that affects capital flow,market access or profitability. As the pendulum shifts from state regulatorysovereignty to global capital freedom, re-visioning the WTO to enforcethe same standards can end up with a greater proportion of the global workforcecovered by regulations than ever before: “the aim of international laborstandards should be to prevent and redress [social dumping] practices,that include child labor, prison labor, forced labor, unsafe and unhealthyworking conditions, unfair wages, and discriminatory practices.”[35]Indeed, it is important to distinguish between a workers’ rights clausein the WTO as protective, not protectionist, since it doesn’t need to upsetrelative competitiveness if it applies to all corporations and all statesequally.[36]Also, in an interesting twist on who uses protectionist tactics, we canposit that transnational corporations (TNCs) are protecting their rightsat the expense of the ability of political jurisdictions to protect therights and livelihood of their citizens: “the global economy is littlemore than a protectionist tactic used by TNCs and banks against any abilityof communities to preserve their own sustainability or that of nature.”[37]

Froma Marxist perspective, another example of fraternizing with an enemy paradigmis the growing trend of industry/union/NGO cooperation. The 1998 creationof the Ethical Trading Institute (ETI) promotes similar business practicesas in the Clean Clothes Campaign code.[38]The ETI premise is that a “multi-stakeholder alliance of business and civilsociety” can help overcome the difficulties of implementing internationallyderived standards throughout the supply chain.[39]Their data confirm significant success: despite a 50% rise from 1999 to2000 in the overall number of suppliers to all ETI member businesses, theproportion of all the suppliers that were monitored went from 20% to 64%.[40]Ultimately, though, as Oxfam discovered, managers not committed to meaningfulmonitoring will impede efforts of even organized workers:[41]wisdom ETI ought to consider when it monitors its own monitoring.

Atbest, it would be disingenuous to argue that the global fair trade regimepromoted by fair trade organizations is contributing little to alleviateglobal poverty just because it is not overhauling the global capitalistsystem. The anecdotal and quantitative data support FTOs’ effectiveness.If FTOs have been trying to improve labour standards throughout the world,particularly in countries that have not experienced strong domestic regulation,then a natural extension of the fair trade movement may actually be tosupport initiatives to insist that the WTO enforce labour standards alongwith free trade mechanisms. In fact, FTOs may be contributing useful newnorms to a Gramscian counterhegemonic ideal that, when combined with anti-corporateglobalization movements in the world, may soon provide sufficient impetusto succeed at converting the WTO into a tool of global justice, ratherthan a pawn of global capital. So, instead of the WTO underwriting irresponsibleTNC behaviour, the WTO could soon insist that “a company would not be permittedto trade between nations unless it could demonstrate that, at every stageof production, manufacture and distribution, its own operations and thoseof its suppliers and subcontractors met the specified standards.”[42]But just because the fair trade movement may not completely supplant exploitativecapitalism, we should not stop supporting it. It may represent the onlyfeasible humane option in the near future.


[1]Rose Benz Ericson, “The Conscious Consumer: Promoting Economic Justicethrough Fair Trade,” in Global Backlash: Citizen Initiatives for a JustWorld Economy,ed. Robin Broad (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002),188.
[2]Rachel Wilshaw, “Code Monitoring in the Informal Fair Trade Sector: theExperience of Oxfam GB,” in Corporate Responsibility and Labour Rights:Codes of Conduct in the Global Economy,ed. Rhys Jenkins, Ruth Pearson and Gill Seyfang (London: Earthscan Publications,2002), 209.
[3]Ibid., 211.
[4]Ericson, 188-89.
[5]Ibid., 188-90.
[6]Ibid., 189-90.
[7]Ibid., 188.
[8]Ibid., 189.
[9]Marc Monsarrat, Fair Trade and Awareness on the Ground: The Case ofCECOCAFEN in Nicaragua(Burnaby: SFU M.A. Thesis (Geography), 2002), 41-6.
[10]Kari Lyderson, “The Socially Responsible Santa,” Alternet.org (December19, 2003), viewed at http://alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=17420 on February12, 2004.
[11]Ericson, 189.
[12]Monsarrat, 83.
[13]Ericson, 191.
[14]Monsarrat, 75.
[15]Nina Ascoly and Ineke Zeldenrust, “Working with Codes: Perspectives fromthe Clean Clothes Campaign,” in Corporate Responsibility and LabourRights: Codes of Conduct in the Global Economy,ed. Rhys Jenkins, Ruth Pearson and Gill Seyfang (London: Earthscan Publications,2002), 173.
[16]Ascoly and Zeldenrust, 177.
[17]Ibid., 174.
[18]Ibid., 175-6.
[19]Wilshaw, 219.
[20]Ibid., 211.
[21]Ibid., 209.
[22]Ibid., 219.
[23]Co-op America, “Fair Trade Industry Tops $USD Quarter of a Billion” (September10, 2003), viewed at http://www.coopamerica.org/newsroom/releases/091003.htmon February 12, 2004.
[24]Ericson, 189.
[25]George Monbiot, The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order(London: Flamingo, 2003), 230-231.
[26]Ericson, 188.
[27]Ibid., 188.
[28]European Fair Trade Association, “Fair Trade and Seattle: World Trade OrganisationPosition Paper,” (November 30, 1999), viewed at http://www.eftafairtrade.org/Document.asp?DocID=65&tod=23634on February 12, 2004.
[29]Iqbal Masih and Blair Underwood, “Presentation and Acceptance of ReebokYouth in Action Award,” in Global Backlash: Citizen Initiatives fora Just World Economy,ed. Robin Broad, (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002),199.
[30]Monbiot, 185.
[31]Ibid., 51-2.
[32]Ibid., 205.
[33]Ibid., 227-8.
[34]International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, “Building Workers' HumanRights into the Global Trading System,” in Global Backlash: CitizenInitiatives for a Just World Economy,ed. Robin Broad, (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002),150.
[35]Erika de Wet, “Labor Standards in the Globalized Economy: The Inclusionof a Social Clause in the General Agreement On Tariff and Trade/ WorldTrade Organization,” Human Rights Quarterly17.3 (1995), 448.
[36]International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 150.
[37]Colin Hines and Tim Lang, “In Favor of a New Protectionism,” in TheCase Against the Global Economy,ed. Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books,1996), 485.
[38]Mick Blowfield, “ETI: A Multi-Stakeholder Approach,” in Corporate Responsibilityand Labour Rights: Codes of Conduct in the Global Economy,ed. Rhys Jenkins, Ruth Pearson and Gill Seyfang (London: Earthscan Publications,2002), 184.
[39]Blowfield, 186.
[40]Ibid., 188.
[41]Wilshaw, 219.
[42]Monbiot, 227-8.



Ascoly,Nina and Ineke Zeldenrust. “Working with Codes: Perspectives from the CleanClothes Campaign.” In Corporate Responsibility and Labour Rights: Codesof Conduct in the Global Economy.ed. by Rhys Jenkins, Ruth Pearson and Gill Seyfang. London: Earthscan Publications,2002.

Blowfield,Mick. “ETI: A Multi-Stakeholder Approach.” In Corporate Responsibilityand Labour Rights: Codes of Conduct in the Global Economy.ed. by Rhys Jenkins, Ruth Pearson and Gill Seyfang. London: Earthscan Publications,2002.

Co-opAmerica. “Fair Trade Industry Tops $USD Quarter of a Billion.” September10, 2003. Viewed at http://www.coopamerica.org/newsroom/releases/091003.htmon February 12, 2004.

deWet, Erika. “Labor Standards in the Globalized Economy: The Inclusion ofa Social Clause in the General Agreement On Tariff and Trade/ World TradeOrganization,” Human Rights Quarterly,17.3 (1995): 443-462.

Ericson,Rose Benz. “The Conscious Consumer: Promoting Economic Justice throughFair Trade.” In Global Backlash: Citizen Initiatives for a Just WorldEconomy.ed. by Robin Broad. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002.

EuropeanFair Trade Association. “Fair Trade and Seattle: World Trade OrganisationPosition Paper.” November 30, 1999. Viewed at http://www.eftafairtrade.org/Document.asp?DocID=65&tod=23634on February 12, 2004.

Hines,Colin and Tim Lang. “In Favor of a New Protectionism.” In The Case Againstthe Global Economy. ed.by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books,1996.

InternationalConfederation of Free Trade Unions. “Building Workers' Human Rights intothe Global Trading System.” In Global Backlash: Citizen Initiativesfor a Just World Economy.ed. by Robin Broad. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002.

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