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TPPA under fire over human rights

NewstalkZB, New Zealand

TPPA under fire over human rights

13 May 2011

By Alan Lee

The controversial Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is under fire over human rights issues.

The TPPA would see a free trade agreement between New Zealand and eight other countries including the United States.

It has been criticized because it would effectively create a “mega-treaty”, which could stymie domestic policies that a future New Zealand Government might want to enact.

During the negotiations, PHARMAC’s right to buy cost-effective drugs from many different countries has been challenged as has our right to impose smoking restrictions.

However, Auckland University’s Professor Jane Kelsey says it’s not just about us.

"Part of the obligation the New Zealand Government has is not to enter into an agreement that will make it more difficult for other countries to also comply with their human rights obligations."

Professor Kelsey says the TPPA isn’t the first time that a free trade agreement has thrown up human rights issues

"Human rights collisions with free trade agreements have become quite prominent concerns and New Zealand has never actually addressed this tension and we think it’s time that they did so."

Jane Kelsey wants the Human Rights Commission to take a close look at the agreement.