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"Next Generation" Trade and Investment Agreements: Upcoming Challenges for Public Services

This is an excellent recent presentation by a EU public services group about the attacks on public services in the EU by the trade agreements of countries like the US ('next generation' trade deals refers to US style negative list agreements which are particularly aggressive in privatizing and capturing public services, permanently (example, the US capture of healthcare around the globe by transnational corporations) ending public ownership and voter control over irreplaceable services and resources.. It shows the strategies which this global scheme, uses. Very much worth reading.

Water in the age of coronavirus

As we confront the new global enemy SARS-COV-2, the availability of water will be a crucial determinant for a successful outcome in this war

Farmers outraged water from drought-stricken regions "sold to China"

Conflict over water mining illustrates how FTAs are literally a global "Second Enclosure" of everything, giving global extractive industries rights to sell what they mine which would seem to conflict with what is basically common sense and expected behaviors by governments in the last century. (Both in the case of services, or goods, arguably the biggest shift occurred on January 1, 1995, the date the WTO came into force.) The problem is the rules have been changed and we, the people, are invariably the last to know. Goods and services of all kinds became tradable and once exported, even just a little bit, the entire shift is locked in (the ratchet, its called) and from that point onward all "measures" (basically any and every law and policy or lack of activity by governments at all levels, and quasi-governmental bodies) which impacts the "supply" of it in the commodity sense, for example, by reducing its value by restricting the sale (for example, the NHS reduces the value of health insurance even if few can afford it, it will have to be phased out in favor of market based services people can buy, if they are healthy enough, and dont have any genetic issues) A shift occurs such that providing it, (or that of "like" services, see the EC-Bananas case) are under the jurisdiction of international treaties, like the WTO's, and others, and all laws must conform to them at least by being minimally trade restrictive. Once it begins, all laws that conflict with international trade are subsumed to the rules of the trade body, like the WTO. So even if people are dying of thirst due to water being exported, or freezing to death of cold because the fuel has been exported, international trade export takes precedence. Similar to the Irish Potato Famine when lots of food was exported from Ireland (which was part of the UK, the richest country in the world at that time). People who got in the way were also exported, (transported) we may recall. To Australia which was a British colony.

Book: Blame It On the WTO: A Human Rights Critique

by Sarah Joseph 365 pages Oxford University Press, Oxford When the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established in 1995, few human rights lawyers at the time realized the significance of this event for their discipline. In part, this may have been because the creation of the WTO followed more than a decade of neoliberal policies characterized by deregulation and the removal of barriers to trade and investment in many regions. Although it strengthened the system originally established under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, the WTO was not seen to represent a seismic shift: it was the final stage of a gradual evolution, rather than the beginning of something radically new... The relative indifference of human rights lawyers also stemmed from a lack of understanding of the consequences of this ambitious overhaul of the global trade system. The WTO was deliberately placed outside the remit of the United Nations. With its establishment, the international trade system included for the first time a dispute settlement mechanism of a quasi-judicial nature, binding upon the WTO Members, and which could allow economic sanctions to be imposed on States that failed to comply with the disciplines imposed on them. Indeed, in retrospect, it is this aspect of the WTO Agreement that appears both the most novel and that has the most far-reaching consequences. Most notably, it created an imbalance between the commitments of States under the WTO framework and their other international obligations, including those under human rights treaties: should conflicts emerge between the two sets of obligations, States may be tempted systematically to prioritize their duties under the WTO, because of the sanctions attached to non-compliance, leaving aside the comparatively ‘softer’ commitments made under human rights treaties. As this important book by Sarah Joseph shows, things are now changing. The problems arising from the fragmentation of international law are increasingly being acknowledged, and solutions are being explored to overcome them. Due to the ‘special nature’ of human rights treaties, which are irreducible to exchanges of undertakings between States, merely to state that these treaties are paramount, will not suffice. We need to work towards practical ways of avoiding conflicts whenever possible, and of solving conflicts when they emerge, in ways that do not lead to the sacrifice of human rights on the altar of increased trade, even for the sake of economic growth.