UN rights expert warns against bypassing national parliaments

UN rights expert warns against bypassing national parliaments

EU/trade agreements CETA

Geneva (24 June 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas today warned that any plan by the European Union to bypass national parliaments to push through controversial trade deals would violate international human rights norms and standards.
“Trade deals prepared and negotiated in secret, excluding key stakeholders such as labour unions, consumer associations, health professionals and environmental experts and now parliaments, have zero democratic legitimacy,” said the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.
Mr de Zayas’s call comes as the European Commission is reportedly preparing to treat the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) deal with Canada as an “EU only” matter which, if adopted, will exclude ratification by every national Parliaments in the EU, according to leaked documents and recent media reports that the Independent Expert discussed with various EU stakeholders.
“In view of the increasing vocal opposition by civil society organizations, a thorough open discussion should be carried out by national parliaments and referenda should be organized in all countries concerned,” Mr de Zayas said. “Disfranchising the public from participating in this important debate is undemocratic and manifests a profound disregard to peoples’ voice”.
An earlier consultation conducted by the European Commission in 2014 resulted in 97% of respondents from across Europe expressing opposition to the inclusion of asymmetrical investment
protection in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA. “The same would apply to CETA, but no consultation was ever held,” he noted.
In the light of the European Council on 28–29 June 2016, the expert called on States to respect their human rights obligations. “The human rights treaty regime entails binding obligations that States must observe,” the expert said recalling the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter, and the American Convention on Human Rights.
“In case of conflict between trade agreements and human rights treaties, it is the latter that prevail,” he stressed. “States must not enter into agreements that delay, circumvent, hinder or make impossible the fulfillment of human rights treaty obligations.”
The Independent Expert noted that it is not for the State to guarantee profits to investors or transnational enterprises, but to legislate and regulate in the public interest. “The State cannot divest itself of this responsibility to act to protect populations under its jurisdiction by adopting precautionary health and environmental measures, by regulating labour standards and by ensuring food security,” he said.
“Trade agreements should only be ratified after human rights, health and environmental impact assessments have been conducted, which has not been the case with regard to CETA and TTIP,” Mr de Zayas said. “Ratification of CETA and TTIP would start a ‘race to the bottom’ in human rights terms and would seriously compromise the regulatory space of states. This is contrary to the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter and would constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a democratic and equitable international order,” the UN Independent Expert concluded.     •

Source: Office of the United Nations High Comissioner for Human Rights

*    Prof Dr iur et phil. 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. The Independent Experts are part of what is known as 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 organization and serve in their individual capacity.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls firmly rejects TTIP. At an event on 26 June he said: “I can tell you frankly, there cannot be a transatlantic treaty agreement.“ “This agreement is not on track,” and Valls continued: “If France wants to, it can stop TAFTA [Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement].” The agreement would also quite simply be “bad for our economy,” the French Prime Minister said.

Source: German business news, from 29.6.2016, www.thelocal.fr, 26.6.2016

A letter from Ireland

Dear British Friends,

All Hail to those UK democrats who have made “Project Hope” prevail over “Project Fear” and decided that they want to win back Britain’s political independence and national democracy in face of the undemocratic monster that is the European Union.
Let us rejoice at the discomfiture of the Brussels Eurocrats and their acolytes in every EU country […]
Democrats in the Republic of Ireland should now seek to win back Ireland’s independence by following Britain out of the EU and the Eurozone. Leaving the EU is the only legal way in which Ireland can disentangle itself from the disastrous Eurozone, joining which was the biggest mistake ever made by the Irish State.
Ireland does two-thirds of its foreign trade outside the nineteen-member Eurozone: two-thirds of its exports and three quarters of its imports. It is essential that Ireland has a special deal governing its UK trade, but while it stays in the EU it is Brussels Commission, not an independent Irish Government, that decides the Republic’s trade arrangements. In any case those running the present and all foreseeable Irish Governments share the anti-national and undemocratic mind-set of the Eurocrats.
British Labour paid the penalty in yesterday’s referendum for failing to stand for British national independence and democracy. If the political Left does not stand for national independence, it is inevitable that the political Right will. This is a lesson that is universally applicable. It is what Ireland’s James Connolly taught in his writings and by example – the Labour leader who was one of the signatories of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising proclamation. [Document from 1916 in which the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic proclaimed Ireland’s independance from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland]
Ireland’s democrats who understand the EU issue will look today with contempt on those politicians […] who shamefully lent themselves to the campaign of bullying, lies and fear-mongering against ordinary UK citizens that characterized the “Remain” side in the Brexit referendum.
This world-historical act of rejection of the EU by the British people will encourage democrats in every EU country, whether on the political Right, Left or Centre, to push ahead with their struggle against the anti-democratic and reactionary EU/Eurzone and to seek to replace it with a Europe of independent, democratic and cooperating Nation States. The EU is an out-of-date construct left over from the Cold War.  It is inevitable that it will disappear in time, and the sooner the better.
Best wishes from Ireland as you seek to implement yesterday’s admirable decision in the period ahead.

Anthony Coughlan, Director of The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, 24 June 2016

This Letter was sent on 24 June 2016 to  organisations and individuals of the “UK-LEAVE”-side.

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