From the Japan Times:
The European Union is insisting on a human rights clause linked to a proposed economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Japan, it was learned Monday.
In negotiations between the EU and Japan on a strategic partnership agreement (SPA), which are held in parallel with their EPA talks, the EU is calling for a clause that allows Brussels to suspend the EPA if Japan engages in human rights violations, informed sources said.
It probably won't surprise people too much to hear that I'm skeptical of including such provisions in international economic agreements. But nevertheless, it's an interesting issue to talk about, so let me ask the following:
-- Are there any current treaties with such clauses? I'm curious about the specific wording being proposed.
-- Who gets to decide if there is a human rights violation? Does a party get to make that decision unilaterally, or must there be a neutral, third party determination?
-- The article says: "An EU official emphasizes that the human rights clause is unlikely to be invoked against Japan, but the EU issues a statement condemning capital punishment is cruel and inhuman every time when Japan executes a death-row inmate. The clause may exert tacit pressure on Japan from the EU, which aims for abolition of the death penalty." However: "In its free trade agreement talks with the United States, the EU does not call for the conclusion of a political pact like the SPA." If such clauses made their way into some trade agreements, and were actually used in the context of the death penalty, how would that affect the trade debate here in the U.S.?
-- I understand that the death penalty is a sensitive issue for many people, but "human rights" is obviously much broader than that. If an EU-Japan agreement had such a clause, what are some of the claims of human rights violations that could be asserted against the EU?
-- Is suspension of the agreement really much of a threat? It would be incredibly disruptive to EU interests for the EU to suspend an agreement. It's hard to imagine it ever happening.