Trade Agreements And Human Rights

Trade agreements are increasingly provisions for governance and human rights. The leading countries are the United States and Canada (the EU was not dealt with as part of this review). However, they tend to be selective in their provisions, focusing in particular on workers` rights, transparency and the fight against corruption, as well as public participation and intellectual property rights. Labour law provisions in trade agreements are gradually shifting from the hortatorium to the obligation, but sanctions and enforcement remain weak. Dispute resolution mechanisms are rarely triggered, and even in cases where economic sanctions could be imposed, this is not the case: signatory parties generally prefer to conduct a labour dispute resolution dialogue (ILO, 2016). Other governance provisions in trade agreements are generally less restrictive. There are proposals to include the language of human rights in trade agreements. We see this as another example in the agreements promoted by the European Union, which contain what is called a `chapter on sustainable development`, which refers to obligations to respect labour rights and basic labour standards and environmental protection obligations. In a new analysis of the actual practice of human rights in ATPs (5), Susan Ariel Aaronson argues that the dissemination of these provisions signals the new reality of international trade. Many of today`s EDPs are governance agreements. It notes that today, many of the world`s major trading nations, from Canada and the EU to Brazil and Chile, are adopting the language of human rights in their ATPs. Aaronson estimates that more than 75% of governments around the world now participate in human rights-held ATPs.

(3) These nations have adopted various strategies for integrating human rights provisions, including derogatory clauses; language in the preamble; or the extension of the language of Article XX of the GATT/WTO. Some of these provisions are mandatory; Others are rhetorical. Ex ante and ex-post human rights assessments should be carried out with regard to existing and proposed BITs and free trade agreements. The UNCOP is the current framework for the economy and human rights. It defines three pillars that must be protected, respected and rectified. It is the duty of the state to also protect against offences committed by companies; The duty of companies to respect human rights, to adopt and implement human rights policies, to exercise due diligence in anticipating and preventing or mitigating violations; States and businesses are responsible for redressing violations. These issues point to increasing and more complex forms of human rights violations by businesses, from people directly displaced from communities, from the harassment and killings of human rights defenders who oppose these megaprojects, to a more subtle attack on social policy and the protection of human rights in the name of infrastructure development.