RCEP fails the Human Rights TestJoin AFTINET

The RCEP fails the human rights test

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. The RCEP is being reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties which will report in August before parliament votes on the enabling legislation.

See a short  explainer article about the RCEP text here and AFTINET's submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties here

 

WTO starts talks for text to enable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, with EU opposing

June 10, 2021: Médecins sans Frontières has welcomed the opening of text-based negotiation at the World Trade Organisation as a major breakthrough for South Africa, India and 63 sponsoring low- and middle-income countries, supported by over 100 countries in total. The revised proposal seeks suspension of patent monopoly rights for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment during the pandemic.

Australian legal professionals tell Morrison govt to support suspension of patents for COVID-19 pandemic

June 9, 2021: The Morrison Coalition government has been urged by 156 Australian lawyers and legal academics to support the proposed suspension of patents on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment, as the Prime Minister takes part in the G7 deliberations on this issue.

EU proposal for WTO vaccine rules a diversion to delay real change

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                            

June 8, 2021

“As the World Trade Organisation TRIPS Council meets today, the European Union has put forward a tiny clarification of existing WTO rules, that would not remove the obstacles and delays in those rules,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network said today.

50,000 Australians come out in support of TRIPS Waiver

June 7, 2020: Ahead of a World Trade Organisation meeting on June 8-9, a group of civil society organisations including AFTINET, Amnesty International Australia, GetUp!, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA,  Public Services International and the Humanism Project gathered outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Sydney to hand over more than 50,000 signatures in support of fair access for vaccines for all.

Final UK FTA talks on corporate rights to sue governments alarm community groups

MEDIA RELEASE, May 31, 2021

“The British Trade Minister has confirmed that corporate rights to sue governments are being discussed in the final negotiations for the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement before an announcement at the G7 meeting in the UK on June 11-13. This is unacceptable and will fuel community opposition to the deal in both Australia and the UK,“ Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network said today.

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