This paper is an exploration of the role of fair trade as an effective developmental initiative in promoting economic self-sufficiency for marginalized producers of the periphery. From Sen and Nussbaum's 'capabilities approach' for evaluating human well-being, I focus on the foundation, structure, and influence of fair trade as an alternative development model and analyze the model within the UNICEF empowerment framework. The UNICEF framework is based on the premise that empowerment involves five levels: 1) Welfare, 2) Access, 3) Conscientization, 4) Participation, and 5) Control. From this discussion, I conclude that, in the long run, fair trade fails to be a sustainable substitute for the neoliberal orthodoxy that currently dominates the institutional mechanisms addressing global poverty.
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