JOINT

Human Rights in International Agreements inquiry launched

13 December 2018

The Joint Committee on Human Rights launches inquiry into whether parliament should set up a specific mechanism to scrutinise international agreements for compliance with human rights and what processes should be followed to ensure adequate scrutiny of compliance with human rights standards in international agreements post-Brexit.

Background

International Agreements contain increasingly important provisions in a modern, globalised world and can have significant impacts on a huge variety of areas. Deals done in such agreements can impact on the human rights of those living in the UK and also the human rights of those living overseas. This could involve justice or home affairs treaties, such as mutual legal cooperation or extradition treaties, or trade deals allowing businesses special access to markets or the export of goods that could be used in human rights violations. All of these agreements have the potential to impact human rights, such as the rights of workers, the right to be free from servitude and forced labour, and the right to privacy of data as it passes across borders.

Send us your views

The Joint Committee on Human Rights seeks written evidence on the best mechanisms to ensure that human rights are protected in the UK’s future international agreements.  In particular we are interested in the following questions:

  • Should the UK Parliament have better mechanisms for scrutinising the human rights protections contained in international agreements contemplated by the UK?  If yes, what processes, information and analysis might be appropriate? What should the JCHR’s role be?
  • Should the UK require standard clauses in international agreements to protect human rights?  For example: 

should the UK require a standard exemptions clause such that nothing in the agreement prevents the UK from adopting measures necessary for the protection of the UK’s domestic and international human rights obligations?

should the UK require a standard suspension clause to highlight the importance of human rights in inter-State relations and to provide for potential sanctions if human rights standards slip below a certain threshold?

how should UK international trade rules ensure adequate restrictions continue to apply to the export of equipment that could be used in human rights abuses, such as torture?

The House of Lords Constitution Committee is also inquiring into Parliamentary Scrutiny of treaties more broadly.

Send a submission to the Human Rights Protections in International Agreements inquiry

Submissions should be no more than 1,500 words.  The deadline for submissions is Monday 14 January 2019.

The Committee is likely to take evidence early in the New Year so prompt submission is particularly helpful

Further information

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