For the primacy of human rights in all trade agreements !

08/09/2003
Press release
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For the primacy of human rights in all trade agreements !
No new negotiations at the WTO without an audit on human rights !
A campaign to obtain consultative status for NGOs !

« The promotion and protection of human rights is a matter of priority for the international community ».
«The lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights ».

Final declaration, Vienna Conference on human rights (June 25th± 1993)

Human Rights come first !

10 years after the Vienna conference which confirmed the theoretical basis of the primacy of human rights over any other type of agreement (trade, services, development...), all the member states of the WTO - that have also signed the Vienna Final Declaration - will meet at Cancun so as to start a new cycle of negotiations, said to be the « cycle for development ».
However, FIDH questions the fact that these schizophrenic States, that tie one hand by signing agreements of principle on human rights but leave the other hand free to dismiss them on behalf of private and/or State interests, really have the will to ensure the primacy of human rights throughout these negotiations.

A diagnosis is needed for this ailing institution

This is why FIDH requests that an independent audit be carried out on the previous round of negotiations, to determine the impact that past agreements have had on fundamental rights. This is necessary before negotiations are resumed within this institution, which has proved its opacity and its unequal treatment of member states.
Never have there been more reasons for conflict within the WTO, whether in agriculture, the services, intellectual property rights or even investments. Clarification is essential before even considering the continuation of discussions on bases that are clearly warped.
In Cancun, time has come for a diagnosis : FIDH requests an audit so as to clarify the areas of conflict between the duties of States in the field of human rights and their duties in the framework of the WTO agreements. Some form of link must be devised between the two in full respect for the principle of the primacy of human rights.
Therefore, FIDH calls for negotiations to be suspended pending the organization of the audit and until its conclusions and recommendations have been published.

The voice of civil society must make itself heard at the WTO

But this audit will only be partly useful if the WTO goes on working in such a closed and covert fashion. Though some NGOs have been able to be heard at the WTO ministerial conferences and within the agreed venues for consultation and dialogue, the institution is surely one of the only intergovernmental organizations to thus restrict the role of civil society. The consequences of this delay are all the more serious because of the presence, at the ministerial conferences, of « NGOs » that only represent, in fact, private or governmental interests.

Therefore, FIDH is launching a campaign to obtain a consultative status for NGOs. This status must be based on clear criteria so as to exclude all groups that serve interests of a private (business NGOs- BINGOs ) or governmental (governmental NGOs - GONGOs) nature; and to ensure the concrete participation of citizens in the WTO’s activities.

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