Groups Slam Trade Deal for Choosing "Private Interests and Profits" over People and Planet

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Common Dreams

Groups Slam Trade Deal for Choosing "Private Interests and Profits" over People and Planet

Over 130 organizations publish statement denouncing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and similar 'free trade' pacts

by
Lauren McCauley, staff writer

(Photo: Caelie Frampton/ Flickr)

Following the most recent round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Lima, Peru, more than 130 organizations have come out against such international trade agreements calling them a "deadly weapon" against democratic rule, the protection of individual rights and environmental justice.

"These agreements further consolidate the asymmetry of laws that propagate that the rights and power of corporations are protected by ‘hard law’ and are above the rights of peoples and communities," write the groups write in an open letter criticizing the agreements.

"We believe that Nation-states should have not only the obligation but also the full freedom to implement laws and policies in favour of the people and the environment, without the threat of being sued by transnational capital," the letter continued.

According to the alliance—which includes such groups as Friends of the Earth, Global Trade Watch, Institute for Policy Studies, Global Exchange—under International Investment Agreements (IIAs) such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a co-signed country can be sued by a transnational corporation if their laws or policies go against the interests of the corporations, such as legislation that favors people or the environment.

"International Investment Agreements grant unprecedented rights to foreign corporations and investors," said Alberto Villarreal from Friends of the Earth-Uruguay, adding, "They are deadly weapons against democratic rule and the protection of peoples' rights and environmental justice."

The group is calling on State signatories to "denounce and stop signing" these agreements that have "unlawfully subjected them to foreign jurisdictions and violate peoples' rights."

Rather, they propose an alternative legal framework for international economic relations that is based primarily on democratic principles, prioritizing the rights of humans and nature over "private interests and profits."

They explain:

This framework should include binding obligations for private and public transnational corporations on issues of human rights, as well as economic, labor, social rights, and respect for mother nature. It should also guarantee governments’ possibility to enact public policy for the realization of these rights. In this context, any investment agreement should also include a mechanism for public participation and democratic discussion with representatives of the relevant social sectors.

The 11 member states of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, United States of America, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam and Peru—are expected to finalize their negotiations by the end of 2013.

Friends of the Earth produced the below video, "Peril in the Pacific," to further explain how countries are impacted by the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Peril in the Pacific (sub esp) from Radio Mundo Real on Vimeo.

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