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Call to lay down rules for signing treaties

Bangkok Post, Thailand

Call to lay down rules for signing treaties

By Achara Ashayagachat

28 April 2007

The draft constitution has failed to fix weaknesses in the state’s endorsement of international treaties, including free trade agreements (FTAs), civic groups and legal experts say. Article 186 regarding the signing of international agreements failed to say that the government must seek parliamentary backing before signing any international pact, they said.

Judge Nandana Indananda, attached to the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, said the constitution does not oblige the state to disclose the pact’s substance to parliament or the public.

In his view, the charter should also require the state to conduct a study of potential treaty impacts and submit the report to the public and parliament before signing anything. The government should also come up with a long-term plan to cope with any adverse effects.

Jaroen Compeerapap, vice-rector of Silapakorn University’s intellectual property rights affairs, demanded the charter set a timeframe for enacting an organic law involving the signing procedure for international treaties.

The organic law, Mr Jaroen said, should guarantee the public’s right to take part in the process to prevent the government from rushing into signing pacts.

Witoon Lianchamroon, of FTA Watch, said the organic law must specify for which treaties public hearings are needed. The hearings must also be held in a timely and fair manner.

Jiraporn Limpananond, chairwoman of the Foundation for Consumers, said the draft contains redundant clauses that ’’bluntly and blindly promote consumerism and capitalism’’. She cited Article 83 which stipulates that the state has to support free enterprise by abolishing or avoiding laws and regulations that control businesses.

Article 85 says the state must promote protection of intellectual property without specifying that a transfer of technology was also needed, she added. ’’The drafters seem to care more for business than public interest.’’

Saneh Jamarik, NHRC chairman, said his commission would gather feedback, and forward it to the drafters.