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This essay examines the institutionalization of environmental concerns, primarily focusing on NAFTA, and argues that the 1994 agreement should be seen as a positive first attempt to raise the profile of environmental concerns within discussions of expanding global trade. More specifically, NAFTA and subsequent U.S. FTAs have contributed to the growth of procedural environmental rights that have the potential to deepen democracy in the wider political system. Given that free trade agreements represent the U.S. approach to world trade at present, this paper takes the practical position that building on NAFTA’s foundation, opportunities exist to continue promoting environmental sustainability within these agreements.


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