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TPP: When corporate power overrides human rights

TPP: When corporate power overrides human rights

By Luis Hallazi

The treaty was presented as a trade agreement and is promoted by the US, negotiated in secret for the last five years, between US officials, advisers to corporate elites and a few officials from the other signatory countries.

In October 2015, when the Peruvian government was getting ready to receive in Lima the most select of the financial elite at the Annual Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the former president Humala was used to announce the end of the negotiations, after more than twenty rounds of negotiations since March 2010, without probably knowing the content of the TPP, or the rights that would be violated.

On February 4, it was signed by the president and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Magali Silva, with very little coverage in the media. Months before, the text of the treaty with more than five thousand pages, divided into thirty chapters in technical-legal English, also composed of four parallel Agreements, had not been translated into Spanish. What little was known before the signing of the TPP was leaked by WikiLeaks.

This opacity since the birth of the treaty has been accentuated in recent months, the Executive Power to this day has not shown any transparency in the TPP process. There is no information on the technical-legal reports of the corresponding sectors, which would have approved the treaty. It is known, however, that the Ministry of Health issued a report questioning the treaty regarding access to health, but its content is not known in detail. It is these reports that support the position of the Executive Power, despite the fact that most have been made after the signing of the treaty; They are also necessary requirements for entering the Congress of the Republic where it will finally be ratified or not.

The Executive's interest apparently is to approve the TPP before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) held in Lima in early November.

The Humala government sought to speed up the process and the bill for the ratification of the TPP was prepared, a very daring strategy, in the case of a Congress that was on the way out. Recently, on September 23, the government of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took up the project and presented it to the new Congress, as required by the Constitution. The interest of the Executive is apparently to approve the TPP before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is held in Lima at the beginning of November and where the arrival of US President Barack is expected. Obama, the main promoter of the treaty.

Peruvian social-urban movement against the TPP

Until now, the vast majority of the population does not know what the Trans-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement-TPP is about, despite the efforts that the urban social movement of Las Zonas, a group of citizens, has been making since October last year. that arose in response to the labor flexibility policies promoted by the Humala government, when, after the approval of the Juvenile Labor Regime Law or the "Pulpín Law", young people were able to organize, mobilizing thousands of people in different parts the country until the repeal of the rule.

The Zones, including Zone 9 that articulates citizens of the Lince, Breña, Jesús María and Pueblo Libre districts, held various conversations about the serious consequences for social rights that the signing of the TPP would bring. The information obtained was from the WikiLeaks leaks, but it also had a work of translation of texts and careful analysis by the members of the movement themselves.

It was thus that from informational pickets, talks, conversations, carraedas (information that is provided during trips in public transport) and virtual calls they managed to accumulate five mobilizations against the TPP until the signing of the treaty. After that, the electoral process had only coverage in the media and the activities carried out against the TPP were made invisible. However, Las Zonas continued to organize until the Platform of Peruvians against the TPP and TISA was established; that brings together more than thirty social and political organizations, unions, indigenous organizations and various groups that have been carrying out various actions to inform and mobilize citizens against the TPP.

Super Investor Rights vs. human rights

It is mentioned that the TPP is the largest trade agreement in history, since it comprises 40% of the world GDP. What is not mentioned is that only the US and Japan represent more than 85% of that GDP, in the same way that it represents 30% of global exports or 11% of the world population. Only between the US and Japan there are more than 450 million inhabitants, more than half of the 800 million inhabitants included in this treaty. What does this mean? The TPP is a geopolitical instrument of the US and Japan aimed at stopping China's economic advance. But not only that, but it is a strategy of the transnational companies that are the ones who have the power in both countries, since it is the transnational corporations that control two thirds (2/3) of global trade.

The TPP is a geopolitical instrument of the US But not only that, but it is a strategy of the transnational companies that are the ones who have power in both countries

This geopolitical game has very little to do with Peru, whose relationship has been completely asymmetrical in the negotiations and which even runs counter to its international economic policy since China is its main partner. But worst of all is that this treaty aims to consolidate a perverse strategy of this solely economic globalization: De facto reform the international legal system where trade and investment treaties are privileged over international human rights law.

But worst of all is that this treaty aims to consolidate a perverse strategy of this solely economic globalization: De facto reform the international legal system where trade and investment treaties are privileged over international human rights law.

The way to do this has been through the imposition of the free trade paradigm, which, aided by the instrumentalization of international law, has been breaking progress in guaranteeing the supremacy of human rights. The case of the TPP is the consolidation of this logic. For example, Chapter IX establishes new rules to protect investors through an International System for Dispute Resolution between Investors and States (ISDS for its acronym in English). This system seeks to evade the jurisdiction of national courts when there are conflicts between investors and the State, directly resorting to arbitration tribunals that are ultimately private tribunals.

Another strategy for this breach of international law is those related to intellectual property rights. These have been increasingly sophisticated until their objective is denatured when it comes to regulating issues related to access to health, not to guarantee the health of human beings but to ensure greater profits to pharmaceutical corporations when patents or rights are extended. exclusive manufacturing in medicines, which makes the acquisition of certain medicines inaccessible to certain people.

Under the same formula of intellectual property rights, the TPP extends copyright over 70 years and in the case of the Internet, it grants rights to service intermediaries (Movistar, Claro, etc.) so that they can withdraw content when a company or person denounces someone for having violated copyright, which would cause serious restrictions on fundamental rights exercised on the internet such as freedom of expression, information and privacy. In the same direction, under the argument of protection of intellectual property rights, farmers and peasants will also be forced to restrict traditional practices such as the exchange of seeds, since some transnational companies have patented said seeds or are interested in doing so.

To these new prerogatives are added the commercial and investment clauses or principles, which began to be used in the so-called Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) and in the Free Trade Agreements (FTA); but that are now strengthened in this multilateral treaty of the TPP. We refer to the “principles” of National Treatment, Fair and Equitable Treatment, Most Favored Nation Treatment, Indirect Expropriation and Performance Requirements; In short, they are protection measures so that they do not hinder investment, nor contravene the expectations of future profits that transnational companies may have.

For this to work, it is necessary that the signatory State of the TPP renounces its national jurisdiction in the case of a State-investor dispute and submits to an arbitration court with private arbitrators, without double instance and where many of the arbitrators are part of revolving doors.

For this to work, it is necessary that the signatory State of the TPP renounces its national jurisdiction in the case of a State-investor dispute and submits to an arbitration court with private arbitrators, without double instance and where many of the arbitrators are part of revolving doors. The main arbitration court is the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an institution of the World Bank that has signed an Agreement on the Settlement of Disputes with Peru.

The experiences in ICSID, as is logical, are mostly favorable to transnational companies, forcing the States to pay millionaire sums for compensation and even truncating the implementation of laws and public policies by the State, under the argument that said norms or policy they contravene the commercial “principles” subscribed in the BITs or FTAs, now strengthened with the TPP. In the case of Peru, he has been prosecuted for more than 2,500 million dollars and so far the defense has cost him more than 15 million dollars.

The TPP has not only had serious deficiencies in the transparency of its preparation, but also in the signature and ratification processes in each country. The reasons for this opacity are found in their content, different articles that, through a sophisticated legal technique, seek to clearly benefit investors, granting them super rights that put them in a comfortable position in relation to States with weak institutions and that finally break the bank. framework for the protection of human rights.

Different instances of the United Nations have expressed the threats of the TPP and the extreme liberalization of trade agreements and with this the need for a binding international instrument for transnational companies to respect human rights. In the case of Peru, it has been the emerging social movement that has questioned the ratification of the TPP, this would be a direct message to the current president and congressmen, the message that we will be vigilant of the lobbies for the next five years.

* Luis Hallazi is a human rights researcher.

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Video: The impact of corporations on human rights (May 2021).