The effects of human rights related clauses in the EU-Mexico Global Agreement and the EU-Chile Association Agreement

10-02-2017

The democracy clause in the EU-Mexico Global Agreement and by extension the EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement calls for respect for fundamental human rights. If these are breached, a sanctioning clause can be invoked. The widely reported violations of human rights in Mexico are tackled through political dialogue. The agreement includes cooperation articles on social policy, the results of which are non-binding. Against this background, it is difficult to make a clear link between the potential effects of human rights related clauses in the Global Agreement on the human rights situation in Mexico. The EU-Chile Association Agreement (AA) also includes a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which is subject to the democracy clause. More developed than that in the Global Agreement, this clause calls for respect for fundamental human rights; sustainable economic and social development; and commits parties to good governance. The AA also includes a suspension clause in case of breach of the democracy clause, and cooperation provisions, the results of which are non-binding. While these are more detailed than the ones in the Global Agreement, the impact of the EU-Chile AA on the human rights situation in Chile has been limited in its extent and to specific aspects of the social policy agenda. In both cases, the monitoring mechanisms of the EU agreements have generally been implemented properly – even if civil society participation in Chile was institutionalised late. These mechanisms have played an important role in nurturing cooperation, but the incentives created have not translated into sufficient pressure for the implementation of human rights related reforms. Rather than the EU FTAs per se impacting on ensuring the respect of human rights in Mexico and Chile, it is the cumulative effect of the liberalisation of trade in the two countries, the EU-Mexico Strategic Partnership, the role of all global players, and cooperation with international donors that have encouraged reform. Ultimately, whether or not reforms in favour of respect of human rights have been adopted and implemented was the result of domestic politics in Mexico and Chile.

The democracy clause in the EU-Mexico Global Agreement and by extension the EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement calls for respect for fundamental human rights. If these are breached, a sanctioning clause can be invoked. The widely reported violations of human rights in Mexico are tackled through political dialogue. The agreement includes cooperation articles on social policy, the results of which are non-binding. Against this background, it is difficult to make a clear link between the potential effects of human rights related clauses in the Global Agreement on the human rights situation in Mexico. The EU-Chile Association Agreement (AA) also includes a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which is subject to the democracy clause. More developed than that in the Global Agreement, this clause calls for respect for fundamental human rights; sustainable economic and social development; and commits parties to good governance. The AA also includes a suspension clause in case of breach of the democracy clause, and cooperation provisions, the results of which are non-binding. While these are more detailed than the ones in the Global Agreement, the impact of the EU-Chile AA on the human rights situation in Chile has been limited in its extent and to specific aspects of the social policy agenda. In both cases, the monitoring mechanisms of the EU agreements have generally been implemented properly – even if civil society participation in Chile was institutionalised late. These mechanisms have played an important role in nurturing cooperation, but the incentives created have not translated into sufficient pressure for the implementation of human rights related reforms. Rather than the EU FTAs per se impacting on ensuring the respect of human rights in Mexico and Chile, it is the cumulative effect of the liberalisation of trade in the two countries, the EU-Mexico Strategic Partnership, the role of all global players, and cooperation with international donors that have encouraged reform. Ultimately, whether or not reforms in favour of respect of human rights have been adopted and implemented was the result of domestic politics in Mexico and Chile.