Dear Mrs Ferrero-Waldner,
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is very surprised by the comments made by Mr. Fernando Cardesa García, Ambassador of the Delegation of The European Commission to Colombia and Ecuador, in Semana international on 2 February 2009 stating that human rights are « not an element in the commercial agreement » currently negotiated between the EU and Colombia.
FIDH believes these comments contradict the EU’s obligations and commitments in the field of Human Rights. The EU is legally bound to respect human rights in its territory and abroad and has made respect for human rights one of the objectives of its foreign and security policy. Excluding human rights from one of the key aspect of its external policies, i.e. trade, would be a major setback for the promotion of human rights abroad.
Furthermore, FIDH understands that the current agreement is negotiated within the framework of a wider Association agreement with the Andean Community of States in which human rights are an essential element.
FIDH insists that the realisation of Human Rights be included not only in the aim of the Association Agreement but also in the commercial pillar mentioning in particular a list of core international human rights and labour conventions that should be respected by all parties to the Agreement.
Indeed, human rights and in particular economic, social and cultural rights may be affected by the trade agreement itself. The realisation of the right to food , health and education for the poorest are today clear and measurable objectives, that are directly affected by both global and sectoral trade policies. Such effect can be strongly negative when trade occurs between different regions with high differences in social development.
FIDH understands that the EU has an obligation1 to ensure the agreements it signs have no negative impacts on the enjoyment of human rights in other countries, and that it contributes to the realization of human rights. FIDH thus considers that the realization of Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA) prior, during and after the negotiations are a necessity.
FIDH would also like to recall that the United States of America has suspended the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia because of its concern with regard to the serious human rights violations occurring in Colombia.
1See FIDH position paper on HRIA, http://www.fidh.org/spip.php?article5487.