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Secret negotiations of free trade agreements threaten and infringe on human rights, a United Nations Independent expert  says.

Link to video can be accessed at: http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/2015/06/geneva-free-trade-agreements/

Speaking in an interview, Alfred de Zayas UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order said the exclusion of labour unions, consumer unions, health professionals and environmental experts as key partners in trade and investment negotiations is alarming.

Press Conference by Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

“The threat is of course as we have experienced over the last 25 years, through the 3,000 or some bi-lateral investments treaties that we have seen. We have seen retrogression in human rights and this is something that has to be addressed now,” De Zayas said.

Concerned about the growing inequality in the world, De Zayas attributes the increased poverty partly to the increased International Free Trade agreements.  He said some of the treaties conflict with the human rights obligations of states.

He said: “I am concerned about the regime that has been established over the last two decades whereby, corporations can actually interfere in the regulatory space of States.”

He made reference to the ongoing secrecy surrounding the current negotiations for trade treaties such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and said “states in the General Assembly, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Labour Organization, can refer these legal questions to the International Court of Justice in order to have an advisory opinion, which would be very helpful in a world conference which could be convened by UNCTAD in order to review these treaties.”

The Independent expert will present a detailed report on the issue of free trade and investment agreements and the impact on human rights, to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly later in the year.

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