UN Expert Urges TPP Countries Not to Sign the TPP Without Committing to Human Rights and Development
Online Publication Date: 02 February 2016
UN expert urges Pacific Rim countries not to sign the TPP without committing to human rights and development
(2 February 2016) - United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas
called on Governments not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
without reaffirming their human rights treaty obligations and their
recent pledges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
TPP is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless
provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States," said the
UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable
international order in a statement* made public today.
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
The expert's appeal comes on the eve of the gathering of
the trade ministers in Auckland, New Zealand, on 4 February 2016, to
sign the TPP, a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries that
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.
de Zayas reiterated his call on the UN system and Governments across
the world "to put an end to free trade and investment agreements that
conflict with human rights treaty obligations," made last year during
the presentation of a report on free trade and investment agreements to
the UN Human Rights Council.
"Trade is not an end in itself,
but must be seen in the context of the international human rights
regime, which imposes binding legal obligations on States, including the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights," he
"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."
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
"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
"If a public referendum were held in all twelve countries concerned, it will be solidly rejected," Mr. de Zayas stated.
(*) Check the Independent Expert's public statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17005&LangID=E
Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) was appointed as the first
Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable
international order by the Human Rights Council, effective May 2012. He
is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of
Diplomacy. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IntOrder/Pages/IEInternationalorderIndex.aspx
Read the Independent Expert's 2015 report to the UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/30/44): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Pages/ListReports.aspx
the Independent Expert's 2015 report to the UN General Assembly on the
incompatibility of ISDS with human rights norms (A/70/285):
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