Bangladesh, Sept. 13 — The United Nations Independent Expert on promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, on Tuesday called on States and Parliaments to make sure that all future trade agreements stipulate the primacy of human rights.
Existing treaties should be revised to ensure they do not conflict with the duty of States to fulfil binding human rights treaties and meet environmental and health goals, according to a despatch received in the city from Geneva, according to a local news agency.
“Investors and transnational enterprises have invented new rules to suit their needs, rules that impinge on the regulatory space of States and disenfranchise the public,” de Zayas warned during the presentation of his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council.
“In case of conflict, priority must be given to advancing the public interest rather than continuing the current emphasis on profit expectations of investors and transnational corporations.
“It is high time to mainstream human rights into all trade agreements and World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and regulations, so that trade representatives and dispute-settlers know that trade is neither a “stand alone” regime not an end in itself,” he observed.
The report introduces the concept of R2A – responsibility to act in the public interest. The “R2A” reaffirms the ontology of governance and goes well beyond the better known “R2P”, Responsibility to Protect. “Governments, Parliaments and Courts must deliver on R2A and not compromise their constitutionally defined roles.”
The report illustrates how the investor-state-dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS), the recently proposed Investment Court System (ICS), and the WTO dispute settlement mechanism suffer from systemic business-bias and often fail to consider the human rights impacts in their awards and decisions.
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