Just days before the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment deal was signed, a human rights experts warned against it.
The TPP is a serious threat to human rights that no country should sign, advised United Nations independent expert on human rights, Dr. Alfred de Zayas. “Investor-state dispute settlement arbitrations [are] fundamentally imbalanced and unjust,” said de Zayas, adding that the TPP conflicted with guarantees of human rights and state sovereignty in the U.N. charter.
ISDS puts business interests ahead of the right of governments to improve the lives of their people. “The last 25 years have delivered numerous examples of abuse of rights by investors and unconscionable arbitral awards that have not only led to violations of human rights, but have engendered a ‘regulatory chill’ or even a ‘regulatory freeze,’” de Zayas wrote in a report on ISDS in August. His earlier report on other issues with treaties like the TPP said, “The problem lies in part in an anachronistic and uncritical commitment to the philosophy of market fundamentalism,” and that trade treaties were harming the rights to food, water, medicine, education and a clean environment, while making poverty worse.
De Zayas used the occasion—the day before the TPP was signed—to highlight the undemocratic, secretive manner in which the treaty was created. “If a public referendum were held in all 12 countries concerned, it will be solidly rejected.” He joins organizations like Human Rights Watch, Public Citizen, Witness for Peace, the International Labor Rights Forum and a multitude of labor organizations in showing that the TPP not only invites some of the worst human rights abusers in the world into a corporate trade agreement, but—through ISDS and other pro-corporate rules—actively makes human rights problems worse.