Time for a United Nations ‘Global Compact’ for Integrating Human Rights into the Law of Worldwide Organizations: Lessons from European Integration
Author: Petersmann, E-U.
Source: European Journal of International Law, Volume 13, Number 3, April 2002 , pp. 621-650(30)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:The ‘Global Compact’, launched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1999, calls upon business to ‘support and respect the protection of international human rights within their sphere of influence and [to] make sure their own corporations are not complicit in human rights abuses’. This article calls for a complementary ‘Global Compact’ between the UN and UN specialized agencies, as well as with other worldwide public organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), so as to integrate universally recognized human rights into the law and practice of intergovernmental organizations, for example by requiring them to submit annual ‘human rights impact statements’ to UN human rights bodies and to engage in transparent dialogues about the contribution by specialized agencies to the promotion and protection of human rights. The globalization of human rights and of economic integration law offers mutually beneficial synergies: protection and enjoyment of human rights depend also on economic resources and on integration law opening markets, reducing discrimination and enabling a welfare-increasing division of labour. As a corollary, economic, legal and political integration are also a function of human rights protecting personal autonomy, legal and social security, peaceful change, individual savings, investments, production and mutually beneficial transactions across frontiers. The proposed ‘integration approach’ differs from the 1945 paradigm of ‘specialized agencies’ and state-centred international law focusing on the ‘sovereign equality’ of states rather than on human rights and democracy. It takes into account the regional experiences in Europe, that integration law enhances not only economic and social welfare but also the rule of law, the protection of human rights and democratic legitimacy at national and international levels of governance. As in European integration law, human rights should be recognized in global integration law as empowering citizens, as constitutionally limiting national and international regulatory powers, and as requiring governments to protect and promote human rights in all policy areas across national frontiers. Global integration law (e.g. in the WTO) should no longer focus one-sidedly on liberalization. It should also accept shared responsibility for the social adjustment problems of the global division of labour and for governmental obligations to protect and promote human rights in the economy no less than in the polity.
Document Type: Original Article
Affiliations: The European University Institute and its Robert Schuman Centre in Florence
Publication date: 2002-04-01
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