RCEP fails the Human Rights TestJoin AFTINET

The RCEP could undermine post-COVID recovery, workers' rights and environment

The  Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations began in 2012 between 16 countries: India China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN countries, which represented half the world's population. 

The RCEP text remained secret until after it was signed, but leaked documents during the negotiations showed that the RCEP could have included corporate rights to sue governments, stronger monopolies on medicines that would delay the availability of cheaper generic medicines, restricted regulation of essential services and allow for more temporary workers vulnerable to exploitation, without any protections for workers’ rights or the environment. We linked with similar campaigns in other countries to oppose these damaging proposals. 

Campaign Achievements: India withdraws and some damaging proposals removed 

In November 2019, 15 governments claimed they had completed the text of the deal, but strong community campaigns from Indian civil society forced the Indian government to withdraw, which reduced its claimed benefits for Australia and other countries. Some of the most damaging clauses like corporate rights to sue governments and stronger medicine monopolies  have been removed. The negotiations were  delayed by India's withdrawal and the text was signed and released on November 15, 2020. 

See AFTINET's initial media release about the signing here and an explainer article about the RCEP text here

 

Learn more about the key issues that arose in the eight years of RCEP:negotiations

Learn more:

Pfizer predicts huge revenue increase from COVID-19 vaccine sales, opposes suspension of any patent rights

May 5, 2021: Pfizer significantly increased revenue projections from its Covid-19 vaccine for the year, as the vaccine sales in the first three months of 2021 lifted the company to a stronger quarterly profit. The vaccine contributed US$3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of 2021.

Amid COVID disaster, global civil society calls for fundamental transformation of WTO

May 3, 2021: As the World Trade Organisation held yet another failed dialogue on a temporary change to WTO rules to address shortages of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment, 202 international and nation civil society organisations wrote to all heads of state to call for fundamental change to the whole WTO project.

Health experts call out Morrison govt for blocking fair global access to COVID-19 vaccines

April 29, 2021: Over 700 Australian health care professionals and academics, supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Public Health Association of Australia, have called on the Australian government to support South Africa and India’s proposal in the World Trade Organisation for fair global access to COVID-19 vaccines. The WTO meets again on April 30 to discuss the proposal.

Support the ActionAid #PayYourWorkers campaign for garment industry workers

April 28, 2021: April 24 was the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, when an eight-storey garment factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring another 2,500 workers, almost all women and girls.

It’s a reminder of the unsafe conditions endured by garment workers globally – mainly women. Eight years on, women garment workers are still campaigning for their rights.

Tell the Australian government to support fair access to vaccines before WTO meeting on April 30

April 27, 2021: Current WTO rules give 20-year monopoly patents to pharmaceutical companies resulting in 87 per cent of all vaccines being received by high-income countries. There is a growing movement for fair access for low-income countries. Sign the petition to the government to support the WTO rule change here.

Pfizer exposed for unreasonable contract terms for COVID-19 vaccine in low income countries

April 21, 2021: The US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has succeeded in imposing indemnity clauses in its vaccine contract with South Africa, but on exposure was forced to drop demands for sovereign assets to be sold to pay for any claims for compensation for adverse effects.

South Africa has a variant of the novel coronavirus which is resistant to the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine but still vulnerable to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Huge civil society support for global open access to vaccines still blocked at the World Trade Organisation

April 19, 2021: Two hundred and fifty global, regional and national civil society organisations delivered the strongest statement yet in support of the waiver of intellectual property rights during the COVID-19 pandemic to World Trade Organisation Director General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on 13 April.

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