In the past decade, there has been an explosion of bilateral trade agreements. This increase in international economic activity has led scholars to analyze the role of trade in development and human rights. The United States – Korea Free Trade Agreement (―KORUS FTA‖) is an example of a recent bilateral agreement that has exhibited the tension between these areas. The KORUS FTA is the largest bilateral trade agreement since the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Bush signed the agreement in 2007, but it still awaits Congressional approval. The labor provisions of the agreement have received criticism from the labor lobby, various human rights groups, and the Congressional Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy. Because of its size and its potential effects on one of the United States’ largest trading partners, the KORUS FTA will undoubtedly be influential as a model for future trade agreements.
This Article analyzes alternative and additional labor provisions that can improve the KORUS FTA’s capacity to deal with labor violations. First, the Article describes the current KORUS FTA and its labor provisions. Second, it explains the issues these provisions raise. Third, the Article examines three possible alternatives or additions to the labor provisions that might better address these issues. Lastly, the Article argues that an institutional monitoring organization must be a part of the KORUS FTA to ensure that labor violations are identified and dealt with in a timely and non-biased manner.