Sherry Mattice

Canadian Federation of University Women

This conversation is closed.

Should governments consider human rights when granting preferential trading agreements to countries?

Many governments overlook human rights in trading agreements particularly the Preferential Trading Agreements.
Are there ways to enforce human rights in PTAs?

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    Oct 22 2012: A human rights tariff, equally applied to all nations... Agreed upon by the people of the world, would dramatically improve the human condition.
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      Oct 22 2012: Then there becomes the issue of cultural appropriation, or assimilation of one belief system. That is the whole issue that I am concerned about how do we implement human rights or first world ideologies of Human rights. Many things that the western world does not believe to be humane, could be culturally appropriate for another culture
      • Oct 22 2012: "Many things that the western world does not believe to be humane, could be culturally appropriate for another culture"

        I very much doubt that, I mean I'm pretty sure a man who is about to be hanged in Saudi Arabia because he's gay does not agree with his own hanging... Same for a girl in Afghanistan who gets acid poured over her face because she goes to school.
  • Oct 20 2012: Consider, yes. Dictate policy? Probably not. We tend to encounter the law of unintended consequences when we act in a dogmatic, rigid fashion. What if engagement moves the offender towards enlightenment? What if sanctions further harm the victims we're ostensibly trying to protect? Does the historical culture of a region provide justification for abuses? Who decides what constitutes abuse as opposed to culture? There are both the Christians and the Muslims, men and women, who consider elements within a relationship to be mandated by their religious beliefs, while others consider them to be abusive. It's fairly easy to condemn behavior with which we disagree. On the other hand, it's also easy to stand by and do nothing. I think the bottom line is blend of the pragmatic with the ethical.
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    Oct 19 2012: Each Country individually decides what rules they follow, but the UN defines the general aspects of Human Rights.
    • Oct 20 2012: Exactly, each member of the UN has agreed that the UN declaration of human rights defines these rights, it is a prerequisite for membership.
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    Oct 22 2012: It is that old social problem of What governments ought to be doing, but they are not.
  • Oct 20 2012: Just my opinion:

    When dealing with foreign governments, regarding any matter, governments SHOULD always consider everything.

    When it comes to trade agreements, these are often heavily influenced by special business interests and the common good of the people is a very low priority.

    It is important for us to understand and converse about what governments SHOULD do. That provides us with goals and measuring sticks. It is also important to remember that most government actions, and especially with respect to foreign policy, are shaped by situations and politics. It is often necessary to pursue our ideals in baby steps, and sometimes it is necessary to go backwards to find a different route around an obstacle.
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    Oct 20 2012: Governments are obsolete.
    The new paradigm demands that government be consultant - opinion and consideration can now be delivered in real time - a quorum of citizens should be appointed in a round-robbin fashion according to bandwidth and each citizen asked their position on each and every deliberation of parliament.
    Then we sack our representatives - who have never really represented us, and take control of our own destiny.
    If the quorum think it is good to give the fruit of our labour to another nation, then at the very least, we should be given a chance to research who it is that owns the account we are donating to.
    If these kind of decisions were given to the ordinary people, you will see how extraordinary we realy are.

    That's my opinion - based on my experience of the extraordinary people I meet daily - we outclass government by orders of magnitude.
  • Oct 20 2012: Indeed they should. There is however a hegemony to overcome when raisng awareness of human righrs issues. Our experience of Ukraine's children in institutional care found us in conflict with EU plans to expand trading zones into Eastern Europe and those involved in advocating for the oligarchs considered to be the root cause of social problems, were the same politicians which introduced social enterprise as government policy in the UK
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      Oct 22 2012: This is very tragic, I believe that with stronger human rights legislation things like this would not be going on in the first place.
      The Indigenous people of Canada faced many casualties at the hands of the Government induced Residential Schools which were designed to take the Indian out of the Indian, in an attempt to colonize the Indigenous people.
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    Oct 20 2012: Foriegn commerce is authorized and regulated by the Legislature under the Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3. There is a Necessary and Proper Clause at the end of the ammendment. Commerce has been interperted by each supreme court differently. However, in my readings there is no indicators that would preclude the US from doing business with the worst of countries.

    We are allies with Australia and their record as pointed out below was bad with the Aborigines. We buy diamonds from Africia who has had race problems for centries. We buy oil for countries who treat women as property. The largest US manufacturer for US goods is China who has little regard for human life.

    President Obama's portfolio is heavely invested in China. All of this proves that the administration and therefore congress only puts up a front when it is politically advantagious.

    Political affilation makes no difference .... the bottom line is profits above all else. People do what is neccessary to win votes but when inspected at close range do many things adverse to what they say.

    Human rights, drugs, slavery, and other things that we as a nation find undesirable are important to us. The sad truth is that if they have something that we need we will continue to trade with them. The masters of the administration and congress will demand it.

    The United Nations is one way to promote better conditions but has no enforcement arm.

    • Oct 20 2012: The United States violates the rights of gay people and is on shaky grounds with the death penalty and patriot act, but in any case citing American law is useless since the question was about what would be the right thing to do, and not just for the United States but for any country.
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    Oct 20 2012: This took me a long time to find in the mess that is my bookmarks.
  • Oct 19 2012: "Should governments consider human rights when granting preferential trading agreements to countries?"

    Yes, of course. Unless it's absolutely necessary for survival, no preferential trading agreements should be made with countries that ignore human rights and no trade should be conducted with their governments.
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    Oct 19 2012: So, How did Australia get on the security counsel while ignoring their track record with the oldest continuous living culture on the planet?
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    Oct 19 2012: Absolutely. Governments should consider human rights when forming trade agreements.
    Blunt force measures of "persuading" countries to show greater respect toward human rights have proven ineffective and often counter-productive. BUT, we cannot pretend that our moral obligations end at our borders when trading when with these nations enables such abuses. However, monetary gain is a powerful persuader. If we make it economically wise to respect human rights, then change will follow and (theoretically) everyone benefits.
    Admittedly, this is a very general argument to a question which does not have a simple answer. The nature of the human rights violations and the effect of granting/withholding trade agreements with that nation must be taken into account. The point is we must stop to ask ourselves "would this agreement enable these abuses to continue?" and "would withholding this agreement likely have any effect for the better (long-term)?"
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    Oct 19 2012: So are we talking about First Blood rights to be involved in the negotiations?
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    Oct 19 2012: What is the definition of human rights ?
    Who defines it ?
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      Oct 20 2012: I like to see it as an idea as opposed to a corpus listing rights . . . The idea of treating people like humans.
  • Oct 19 2012: Certainly they do in sanctions which is one side of the coin.