From a Tamil Star editorial arguing that Sri Lanka should sign on to certain human rights treaties in order get access to preferential tariffs under the EU's GSP program:
The regime appears to be suggesting in a communiqué that something in the nature of a conspiracy encompassing a member of civil society, the Leader of the Opposition and the LTTE has been hatched to deprive Sri Lanka of the GSP Plus concession granted by the European Union.
Withdrawal of this concession, according to some estimates, will result in the direct loss of at least a 100,000 jobs in the pivotal garment industry and many more indirectly. The charge of conspiracy is very much in the vein of the traitors/patriots discourse that characterises these polarised times. It is also in the hackneyed tradition of offence as the best form of defence.
The regime is not interested. The opposition is willing to provide it support to pass a constitutional amendment which would meet the mandatory EU GSP Plus requirements and strengthen human rights protection, but the government is just not interested. There is no guarantee that this in itself will satisfy the EU GSP Plus criteria in full, but would it not go a long way in doing so?
Because this is the case, the unions and the apparel industry should convince the government that the pressing issue is not the name calling but the satisfaction of human rights protection criteria which is required for GSP Plus. There is no escaping responsibility for ensuring human rights protection.
Is it appropriate to use preferential tariffs as an incentive for developing countries to sign human rights treaties? Is it consistent with WTO rules to do so? Eventually these questions may be raised at the WTO, but it doesn't seem like that will happen in this case.