LLM researchers publish report on EU-Mercosur trade agreement

May 25 2021 Posted: 09:29 IST

LLM researchers at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Reshma Das, Emma Kelly and Simon Seitz, have published an analysis - EU Mercosur Human Rights Analysis May 2021 - of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement concluding that the agreement should not be ratified in its current form.

This research was carried out as part of the Human Rights Law Clinic module at the ICHR, which introduces students to ‘movement lawyering’ and enables them to contribute their skills to community-based movements for social change.

Based on their academic research report and a podcast series co-presented with environmentalist Saoirse McHugh interviewing experts in affected sectors, the students state that the EU-Mercosur deal is likely to drastically increase deforestation, carbon emissions and the abuse of indigenous people. 

The students' report points out the harm to human rights from increased use of pesticides in Mercosur countries which are not licenced for use in the EU. They highlight that the lack of central participation by indigenous peoples in the negotiation of the trade deal breaches the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They note that Brazil has not ratified the 1948 International Labour Organisation Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and that the EU-Mercosur trade deal does not contain binding requirements to respect workers’ rights.  

Crucially, the students highlight that the EU-Mercosur trade agreement has no mechanism to legally enforce compliance with the Paris Agreement. In addition, the researchers claim, EU-Mercosur is inconsistent with the European Green Deal, which commits the EU to climate neutrality by 2050. The European Green Deal further says that no group or region should be put at a disadvantage through economic development.

Emma Kelly, one of the report’s authors, says: “We do not want to hear more pledges and commitments. International trade agreements must include legally binding mechanisms to make sure that their international environmental and human rights law obligations are met. The current proposal is not good enough and we are calling on all EU Member States to refrain from approving this agreement in its current form.”  

Simon Seitz, another of the report’s authors, says: “At an extremely important time for States to meet their Paris Agreement commitments, we find that EU-Mercosur will lead to further deforestation of the precious Amazon rainforest as well as other important eco-systems. Our report highlights devastating human rights violations of indigenous communities living in the Amazon basin who are being killed and whose land has been taken away for industrial farming. We are asking the question: can this be allowed in the name of short-term economic gain?” 

Saoirse McHugh, one of the podcast’s co-presenters states "It has been great to work alongside the fantastic Human Rights Clinic and speak to experts from different sectors and investigate this agreement from various angles. It really brought to light how bad this deal is from a human rights and environmental perspective. Trade deals have a massive shaping influence on the planet and can no longer solely take economic effects into account. This short podcast series and research report produced by Simon,Emmaand Reshma touches on some of the most unsustainable elements of the trade deal and presents a compelling case that the EU-Mercusor trade deal is woefully inadequate for our time and needs to be rejected as it stands."

The report, entitled The EU-Mercosur Agreement: A Human Rights Analysis, is available here: EU Mercosur Human Rights Analysis May 2021 

The accompanying podcast series, featuring interviews with Dr. Laura Kehoe, a conservation scientist; Helmut Scholz, an M.E.P with the German ‘Die Linke’ party; Juliana, a member of the Brazilian Left Front; and Gerry Loftus, an Irish beef farmer, are available on iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher as episodes of The Human Rights Podcast from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway. Visit the Soundcloud site here: https://soundcloud.com/user-418068292