Evaluation of trade agreements have been made in economic terms. But the impact of trade agreements is not limited to economic life. They have human rights dimensions in many aspects. For instance, trade agreements containing the TRIPS-plus provisons may affect the right to access to essential medicine, the right to food and more broadly the right to science and culture, which is protected by the Article 27(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So the UN human rights bodies have tried to develop and propose human rights impact assessments (HRIA) of trade agreements (See The Future of Human RightsImpact Assessments of Trade Agreements).
The recent move of the National Assembly of South Korea to mandate the HRIA was influenced by the efforts of the UN human rights bodies. The lawmaker, Mr. Buh, proposed a bill to amend the Law on the Treaty-Making Process and Implementaion of Trade Agreements (Trade Process Act), which includes an amendment making compulsory the HRIA on every trade pacts that are likely to be agreed upon with trade partners. For doing so, the Trade Minister has to ask the National Human Rights Commission to conduct the HRIA on the trade pact and to reflect in full the conclusion of the HRIA and the opinions of the National Human Rights Commission. In additon, the HRIA report shall be made biannually for the trade pacts which have already come into effect and submitted to the National Assembly.
The bill contains lots of amendments, some are controversial. And it is too early to expect the fate of the bill since it was proposed just two weeks ago. However, I can say that the chance of the mandatory HRIA provision passing through the National Assembly is relatively high.
If you want to show your support of the bill, please contact me (hurips at gmail.com) or the Office of Mr. Buh (babydo at hanmail.net).
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