The Future Of Human Rights Impact Assessments Of Trade Agreements

11 Oct The Future Of Human Rights Impact Assessments Of Trade Agreements

This, however, leaves a broader question unanswered: what other instruments and approaches can be developed to ensure that improving the enjoyment of human rights worldwide is a driver of trade policy? In addition to these points, a participant in the Chatham House discussion expressed concern that ERAs would focus on an agreement and therefore not assess in any context the cumulative impact of trade and investment policy. On 26 February, I launched a discussion at Chatham House in London on human rights impact assessments (HRIA) of trade agreements. The discussion was based on a report by Dr. Jennifer Zerk, Chatham House Associate Fellow in the International Law Program. This important report very usefully outlines the considerable challenges of implementing the IVA`s comprehensive trade agreements in a way that provides useful data that can convincingly help policymakers develop trade agreements that anchor respect for human rights and protect the most vulnerable members of society. In the era of globalization, free trade should be synonymous with prosperity for all. But too often, smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples, people living with HIV and others are excluded from the picture. The future of human rights impact assessments of trade agreements offers a new way of making free trade work for all. It studies how trade pacts can benefit people, but also threaten their basic human rights – access to food, medicine and education, or the protection of their cultural heritage – and develops a gradual process to identify the human impact of trade before concluding trade pacts. A case study examines the impact of a Central American trade agreement on access to medicines in Costa Rica to show how the gradual process works in practice.

The process is working, but more efforts are needed to ensure that such trade policy assessments become standard practice. Human rights NGOs and academics, but also governments, should be at the forefront in the future. The future of human rights impact assessments of trade agreements is important for all those who believe that globalisation can do more, not only for businesses and the economy, but also for everyone, including the poorest. About Simon Walker`s book offers a comprehensive analysis of the current and future use of hRIA in the context of trade agreements, although some of his findings may apply to other contexts beyond trade. […] The book effectively combines a detailed technical analysis of HRIA in the context of trade with a broader, normative debate on the impact of free trade on vulnerable or less powerful groups such as smallholder farmers, people with HIV/AIDS or indigenous peoples. […] it provides an in-depth conceptual analysis of the links between human rights and trade agreements […]. The value of the book`s framework lies in the depth of its underlying conceptual analysis and the clarity and accessibility of its methodology. This value is further reinforced by its potential use beyond trade agreements, by the high relevance of its framework and lessons, as well as by qualifying comments on methods used in different contexts. Walker`s analysis of causality […] makes an additional useful contribution to the global empirical discourse on human rights, which is relevant to areas beyond trade. […] Walker`s work is both comprehensive and subtle. […] The rigour and balance of his analysis make this book an indispensable resource for scientists, practitioners and policymakers dealing with human rights and trade, and his presentation of the “added value” of HRIA in particular contributes invaluable to the ongoing debates.`Siobhán McInerney-Lankford in 2011 NILR 450.

I believe that an ex ante trade agreement simply cannot provide the kind of data that can effectively contribute to the establishment of a trade policy that is in line with human rights. Let`s look at these three challenges: there is an urgent need to understand how human rights can best become a driver of trade policy and it is an issue that would benefit from cooperation with civil society, academics, researchers, business and government policymakers. . . .

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