After the rejection of any inclusion of a social clause in the World Trade Organization agreements, the 1996 Singapore Declaration formally separated the organizational remits for labour and trade in international law. Since then the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been reticent in addressing labour-related issues in multilateral fora, thus distancing itself from social concerns intimately related to the international trade of goods and services. [---] This article shows that the WTO Secretariat, through its reports, strongly links the success of its agenda to deregulatory reforms in labour market policy and labour standards. Against this background the article argues that the crisis of the WTO today, rather than being caused externally by a protectionist turn, is rooted in the failure of the international trade system to sufficiently engage with social concerns.