The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has drawn fire from a lot of organizations, politicians, and individuals over the years. Now, those who are opposed to the agreement are getting help in their fight to stop the agreement from a source within the United Nations. Part of the criticism revolves around intellectual property rights.
The push back on the TPP continues to grow as more and more organizations join the fight to stop the so-called “trade” agreement. While many different organizations have their reasons for fighting the TPP (be it food security, the environment, digital rights, workers rights, or human rights to name a few), they all point to the TPP as a threat to the prosperity and the future of people. As time goes on, it seems more and more are joining in a united front to stop the agreement dead in its tracks.
Lately, it seems that indigenous people are joining the world-wide chorus that the TPP is a threat. Earlier, we covered the Māori who joined protests in New Zealand, saying that the agreement protects the rights of multinational corporations at the expense of the people.
That voice of indigenous people has grown stronger recently. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, spoke out against the TPP saying that it undermines the rights of indigenous people. From Telesur:
According to Tauli-Corpuz, the major issue with the TPP is “the clause of non-discrimination between a local and an international investor … (it) grants more rights to transnational firms, often at the expense of indigenous rights,” she said in an interview with the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.
This is a crucial issue, she argued, as most of the remaining natural resources available on earth are located on indigenous lands — because protecting them is part of the indigenous culture, or because they are located on remote lands.
Many international investment agreements and free trade agreements are negotiated without regard to human rights in general and without any involvement of indigenous peoples. So this is one of the main problems we face.
One of the core principles of these agreements is that they have a non-discrimination clause as investors, which states that you can not discriminate between a local investor and one international, which implies the liberalization of all laws to grant more rights companies and, unfortunately, in many cases undermining the rights of indigenous peoples.
In the specific case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there was no information on the content of the negotiations, and only recently began to be acquainted with them. It is an agreement for the full liberalization of investments and that, among other things, creates a serious threat in the area of intellectual property rights. Under the pretext of creating new jobs, I fear that this agreement human rights remain fragile. While we are still at the stage of ratification, it could be argued that this agreement will be a serious threat to the rights of indigenous peoples.
Keep in mind that many of the last natural resources are located in indigenous territories, either because they have traditionally protected or because they are in very remote areas. The depletion of resources in several countries makes now be launched on the riches of indigenous territories. Unfortunately, we see a regression in relation to the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories and natural resources at both the state level and even within international organizations. For example, even though the Indians recognize the value of Convention 169, within the International Labour Organization (ILO) there is a strong program to promote this Agreement to promote their effective implementation by States.
One thing is for sure, on the back of worldwide protests and condemnation from Human Rights Watch, this is yet another example of how diverse opposition is to the TPP. While the issues people have with the agreement have considerable range, all point to the condemnation of the hugely controversial agreement.
Earlier this month, the TPP was signed off by all 12 countries and is currently undergoing a process of ratification.