Un On Trade Agreements

Given the scope and breadth of the agreements under negotiation, it is necessary to include robust protection measures to ensure the full protection and enjoyment of human rights. As also underlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Economics and Human Rights, States must ensure that trade and investment agreements do not restrict their ability to fulfil their human rights obligations (Guiding Principle 9). Observers are concerned that these treaties and agreements are likely to have a number of retrograde effects on the protection and promotion of human rights, including lowering the threshold for health protection, food safety and labour standards, addressing the commercial interests of pharmaceutical monopolies and strengthening the protection of intellectual property. There is a legitimate concern that bilateral and multilateral investment agreements could exacerbate the problem of extreme poverty, threaten a fair and effective renegotiation of foreign debt and undermine the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, persons with disabilities, older persons and other persons who emigrate in vulnerable situations. There is no doubt that globalization and the many bilateral investment agreements (BIMO) and free trade agreements (FTAs) can have positive, but also negative, effects on the promotion of a democratic and just international order that brings concrete international solidarity. Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) chapters in NTBs and free trade agreements are also increasingly problematic in light of the experience of several decades of arbitration before ISDS tribunals. Experience shows that the regulatory function of many States and their ability to legislate in the public interest are under threat. All ongoing negotiations on bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements should be conducted in a transparent manner, with the consultation and participation of all relevant stakeholders, including trade unions, consumer unions, environmental groups and health professionals. GENEVA, 2 June 2015 – A series of free trade and investment agreements are under negotiation, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). A UN expert group* issued the following statement to express concern about the secrets in the development and negotiation of many of these agreements, as well as the potential negative effects of these agreements on human rights: a 45-day hackathon was organized from June 2020 to allow all interested trade negotiators and government experts, Science, think tank, international organization and civil society to contribute to this difficult undertaking. All relevant contributions from participants are made available via an online repository under the names of their authors or organisations. (The deadline for applications was 29 May 2020). A webinar series was organized to discuss key contributions.

ISDS chapters are unusual in that they protect investors, but not states or the public. They allow investors to sue states, but not the other way around…