Kamis , 23 November 2017
iden

Democratic Deficit on FTA Negotiations

Da Nang, Vietnam  9 – 10 October 2017

Mega FTA & Investment Treaty

 We, CSOs, noted that the current model of economic co-operation is no longer  to simply regulate  narrow terms of trade cooperation  (export-import), but also widely regulate economic and social aspect  and have a direct impact on the lives of the people of Indonesia, even the sovereignty of the country is at stake.

We see that the setting of free trade agreements and international economic cooperation  will be extensively inflict a broader potential impact toward public policy spaces. Not only related to the potential threats over the injustice of economic development, but also threatening fulfillment of the community’s social and economic rights due to constriction of the policy space of the State that “hostage” by the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

Democratic Deficit

Secret Negotiations

Negotiations on free trade and investment agreement generally take place largely behind closed doors, with little access on information and space of intervention for civil society and the millions people who will be directly affected by these deals. This “democratic deficit” poses a threat to the protection of human rights.

UN independent experts and special rapporteur of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have repeatedly voiced their concerns about the potential impact of trade and investment agreements and strongly recommend that all current negotiations about bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreement should conducted transparently.

Transparency is a crucial condition to have public participation in giving inputs and analysis of free trade and investment agreement.

Impact Assessment

Conducting impact assessment prior the FTA negotiations is necessary. This impact study should become the basis of the negotiations process. In relation with the potential FTA impacts to human rights protection, therefore the economic impact assessment from international trade agreements will not be sufficient. It requires a comprehensive study beyond merely economic issues that directly impacted and extends to the rights of society (human rights). or we called it Human Rights Impacts Assessment (HRIAs).

There has been a growing demand for Governments to conduct HRIAs prior to adopting and implementing trade and investment agreements to identify, predict, and respond to potential human rights impacts. HRIAs is ideally carried our not just ex ante, but also periodically ex post, to evaluate and remedy any adverse human rights impacts occurring as a result of trade and investment agreements after their implementation.

Another key aspect of conducting a comprehensive HRIAs is to ensure that all stakeholders are involved and fully informed. This requires equality and non-discrimination, inclusive participation and the interdependence of rights. Moreover, the assessment process should not exclude any individuals or groups from its scope. It is recommended that the HRIAs procedure should be stipulated in national legislations and should not be left to the ad hoc choices of government officials.

Consultation

It’s very important to have a democratic and Non-discriminatory process in the public consultation on FTA negotiations.

For example, The experiences in the RCEP civil society consultations with the Trade Negotiating Committee (TNCs) held in the Perth, Auckland, Tangerang, Kobe, Manila and Hyderabad rounds still has not provided enough space for Civil Society to get involved effectively. The civil society could only speak for about three minutes. This limited the ability for civil society to provide analysis in enough depth, detail and technical specificity to be useful to negotiators. In the other side that commercial interests have been invited to share their views during previous RCEP rounds and have been given the opportunity to provide longer presentations to chapter specific negotiators.

Another issue is no permanent and sustainable public consultation, especially for CSOs, in FTA negotiations. But in the other side, the ABAC and business association has a permanent forum that allows private sector to intervene on a regular basis in the FTA Negotiations.

 Public Complaint Mechanism

In ASEAN there is almost no mechanism that can be accessed by civil society to submit complaints related to FTA negotiation and implementation when the rights of the people are violated. Any free trade and investment agreement should include a public complaints mechanism where civil society stakeholders can bring complaints regarding the consultation process of the negotiations and the impacts of the agreement implementations.

Our Call to ASEAN Countries and The Role of ASEAN Secretariat:

  1. The space for democratic process in the FTA negotiation should be opened. If this democratic space doesn’t exist then the FTA must be rejected as violating human rights.
  2. The negotiating text and any information on FTA negotiation should be opened to the public to perform an impact analysis.
  3. Conduct human rights impact assessment (HRIAs) prior to negotiating the trade agreements and international economic cooperation involving all stakeholders without discrimination.
  4. Open space for public intervention widely without any discriminatory treatment in the process of negotiating trade agreements and international economic cooperation.
  5. Establish a permanent and sustainable forum consultation, in which civil society groups can take the role to strengthen the process of agreement negotiations.
  6. Establish a public complaint mechanism under ASEAN that can accessed by the public regarding the consultation and implementation of free trade and investment agreement.

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Civil Society Organization Coalition for Economic Justice

  1. Indonesia for Global Justice (Rachmi Hertanti-0817-4985-180)
  2. Solidaritas Perempuan
  3. Bina Desa
  4. Perkumpulan CREATA
  5. Koalisi Rakyat untuk Hak Atas Air (KRuHA)
  6. Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (WALHI)
  7. Kesatuan Nelayan Tradisional Indonesia (KNTI)

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