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.

But the RCEP still fails the human rights test

The text was signed and released on November 15, 2020. Despite gross violation of human rights in Myanmar, China and the Philippines, the RECP  has no commitments to human rights, labour rights or environmental standards, could restrict government regulation of essential services like aged care and restrict government  action for local industry development for economic recovery, There has been no independent study of is costs and benefits, and even the Morrison government doesn't claim that it provides extra markets for Australian exporters.

The RCEP has been reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties .The JSCOT  Report  is here and AFTINET's comments are here. The government-dominated majority report acknowledged some of the flaws identified by our submissions, but still recommended in favour of the enabling legislation. Labor and the Greens made critical comments  which raised many  of the points in our submissions .Parliament will debate the enabling legislation at the next sitting scheduled for October 18.

See a short  explainer article about the RCEP text here,  how the RCEP could restrict improved regulation of aged care recommended by the Royal Commission here  and AFTINET's submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties here

 

National organisations urge PM to act against vaccine monopolies at President Biden’s vaccines summit and Quad meeting this week

Media Release                                                                            September 22, 2021

National public health, church, union, human rights, aid and development and environment organisations today called on the Prime Minister to support the proposal to waive WTO rules for vaccine monopolies in global talks this week, and show its support by becoming a formal sponsor.

UN review of ISDS faces severe problems

September 21, 2021: In 2016, following mounting criticism of abuse by global corporations of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) began a review. But after five years, the UNCITRAL Working Group III (WGIII) appears to be a long way from delivering meaningful reforms to the investment arbitration regime.

Australia has finally backed a plan to let developing countries make cheap COVID-19 vaccines — what matters is what it does next

After months of holding out, Australia has at last joined other members of the World Trade Organisation in backing a waiver of patents and other intellectual property rights on vaccines, treatments, diagnostic tests and devices needed to fight COVID-19.

Campaign win: now tell the Trade Minister to deliver on his promise to waive monopoles on COVID-19 vaccines

We had a win! Now ensure that Australia helps to lead efforts to put people over profits and suspend vaccine monopolies.
 

More than 50,000 Australians signed petitions demanding the Australian Government put people before profits and support a temporary waiver on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules that give pharmaceutical companies 20-year monopolies for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

And we won! Thanks to our collective efforts, Minister Tehan said last week he supports the waiver!. But now we need to make sure he delivers on that promise in WTO meetings that begin this week. You can send a message to the Trade Minister here.

Community campaign to waive COVID-19 monopolies wins breakthrough, but government must match words with deeds

September 9, 2021: After months of campaigning a coalition of national civil society organisations were invited to meet with Trade Minister Dan Tehan on September 7 and presented him with evidence that under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules a few companies have a 20-year monopoly on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and low-income countries will not get widespread access for several years.

Act now for low-income countries to get access to COVID-19 vaccines: email your MP

September 6, 2021: Under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, a few pharmaceutical companies have 20-year monopoly patents on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and each government must negotiate with them on prices and quantities. Rich countries are first in line, but even Australia is experiencing delays. Low-income countries must wait years while the pandemic rages, more infectious strains like Delta develop, and millions more die.

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