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PACE calls for sustainable development and protection of fundamental rights in trade agreements

Geraint DAVIES (United Kingdom, SOC)

According to PACE, trade should be greener and fairer: all trade and investment agreements should contain “comprehensive provisions on sustainable development and protection of fundamental rights”, with strong enforcement which is commensurate with protecting investors.

Unanimously approving a resolution and a recommendation based on a report by Geraint Davies (United Kingdom, SOC), the Assembly pointed out that investment protection provisions in trade treaties are often used to “shield the interests of private enterprises rather than the public interest”. The balance of power should be inversed, and such agreements, on the contrary, should be used as “tools to promote democratic norms and human rights, including social rights, on a global scale”, PACE added.

The Assembly urged the Council of Europe member States to “support multilateral negotiations towards the reform of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement mechanism for inter-State trade disputes on the one hand, and the establishment of a Multilateral Investment Court under the auspices of the United Nations for enterprise versus State disputes on the other hand”.

To effectively implement global environmental treaties and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, PACE asked member States to reevaluate their obligations under the “old generation” treaties and supplement them with provisions concerning sustainable development and the safeguarding of fundamental rights.

Finally, the Assembly called on parliaments to participate in negotiations for concluding or revising trade and investment agreements so as “to enhance democratic scrutiny and transparency of the process”. Additionally, States were encouraged “to promote corporate due diligence obligations through trade with regard to the protection of the environment, fundamental rights, and public health, and mitigating climate change”, as well as to “work together for a co-ordinated revision of the Energy Charter Treaty”, especially to reduce its sunset clause.