4 February 2016
Amid ongoing protests opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas urged Governments not to sign the treaty without reaffirming their human rights treaty obligations and their recent pledges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The TPP is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States,” he said.
In his statement Mr. de Zayas called for a new generation of trade agreements for the 21st century, which would incorporate human rights and development into their provisions, stressing that “the TPP is based on an old model of trade agreements that is out of step with today’s international human rights regime.”
Trade ministers of 12 countries in the Pacific region signed the treaty in Auckland New Zealand on 4 February, but the parliament of each signatory state must still ratify the treaty individually.
Visit the Get-Up website for more information and actions you can take in Australia.
In his statement, the Independent Expert expressed concern that, despite “enormous opposition by civil society worldwide, twelve countries are about to sign an agreement, which is the product of secret negotiations without multi-stakeholder democratic consultation.” It is alleged the agreement will strengthen the position of investors, transnational corporations and monopolies at the expense of the public, and will impact negatively on labour standards, food security, health and environmental protection.
“Trade agreements are not ‘stand-alone’ legal regimes, but must conform with fundamental principles of international law, including transparency and accountability,” Mr. de Zayas stressed. “They must not delay, circumvent, undermine or make impossible the fulfilment of human rights treaty obligations.”
“The options are not to sign the TPP as it stands, as civil society demands, or not to ratify it, which is the responsibility of democratically elected parliaments,” the expert noted. “Should the TPP ever enter into force, its compatibility with international law should be challenged before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)”.
(Independent Experts are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.)