Friday, December 09, 2005

Amnesty International urges WTO to respect human rights

As 148 governments prepare to meet in Hong King for the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the WTO, Amnesty International is urging the governments to give greater attention to human rights.

One example of particular concern comes from the WTO's Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Rights (TRIPS) which can hinder access to essential medicines for all. Concerns about this issue have lead to the WTO granting a 7 year extension to implement TRIPS.

Amnesty International urges all 148 governments to ensure that human rights concerns are central to the considerations of the upcoming meeting. Specificaly they urge the governments to;

* Ensure LDCs make full use of the seven years extension for the compliance of the TRIPS obligations. Developed countries should cooperate with at least one LDC by helping them to develop their technological base and to conduct, in conjunction with other relevant agencies, a human rights impact assessment to ensure their compliance with the TRIPS obligations will not negatively affect the human rights of their populations.

* Commit to carrying out participatory human rights impact assessment before concluding any new trade agreements, or making revisions to existing ones.

* Ensure that decisions made are informed and complemented by exchanges with governmental bodies responsible for ensuring compliance with human rights obligations. The governments may, for example, consider including at least one human rights expert in their delegations.

* Offer political support to ensure that relevant UN agencies and organizations build on existing expertise and best practice worldwide in order to identify an effective model of human rights impact assessment, which will include the development of appropriate methodology and human rights indicators and benchmarks.


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