As the UK’s departure from the European Union approaches, the British Government is preparing to take on the new responsibility of trade negotiations. The Trade Bill currently passing through the British Parliament is laying the groundwork for this. Civil society has called for the inclusion of Human Rights and Democracy clauses that are at least equal to the EU’s standards, and others emphasise that this is also an opportunity to introduce higher standards.
On 6 November 2018, the Human Rights and Equality Commission took the lead of organizing a co-organized round-table discussion together with Equinet and ENNHRI, the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions. The event was hosted by Sajjad Karim MEP , alongside Heidi Hautala MEP, Jean Lambert MEP.
The aim of the event was to develop the idea of a strong nexus between equality, human rights and trade, and discuss best practices for guaranteeing their interdependence. To discuss concrete steps towards ensuring trade negotiations and discussions have a strong equality and human rights component, and to outlining the key aspects and features of a model human rights and democracy clause. Finally, to
consider the above within the context of Brexit.
This seminar considered the following questions and topics:
- What does best practice look like?;
- What consultation mechanisms should be put in place for civil society to bring complaints about alleged breaches?;
- How can we make sure human rights and equality are at the heart of the discussion on trade?;
- What role is there for business and civil society in this?