Editor's Note: Marie Wilmet is a research intern in Public
International Law at the Asser Institute. She recently graduated from Leiden
University’s LL.M. in Public International Law. Her main fields of interest
include international criminal law, humanitarian law and human rights law as
well as counterterrorism.
Alliance for Torture-Free Trade was launched
on 18 September 2017, at the 72nd Session of the United Nations (UN)
General Assembly, by a common initiative of Argentina, the European Union (EU)
and Mongolia. It aims
at ending the trade in goods used to carry out the death penalty and torture.
Indeed, even though torture is unlawful under public international law, these
goods are currently available on the open market across the globe. By banning
such tools from global trade, the Alliance hopes to reduce the possible human
rights violations by complicating the perpetrators’ acquisition of the means to
execute and torture people.
initiative is part of a broader agenda both at the UN and EU level. It falls
under the broader umbrella of UN projects such as the UN Guiding
Principles for Business and Human Rights or the UN Global
Compact. Moreover, the EU has tried in the recent years
to strengthen the rule of law by conducting policies where trade
and values are more interrelated. As the EU
Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström stated,
“human rights cannot be treated as an afterthought when it comes to trade”.
blog will first retrace the origins of the Alliance by outlining the current
factual and legal framework surrounding torture, the death penalty and related
trade. Then, the Alliance and its ambitions will be analysed, along with the
chances of its effective implementation. More...
Wybe Th. Douma is senior researcher in EU law and international trade law at the
placing of illegally harvested timber on the EU internal market is prohibited
already for over four years, the first court cases are appearing only now.
Judges in Sweden and The Netherlands have recently held that the due diligence
requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) had not been met by two
importing companies. The companies should have ensured that the timber from Myanmar
and Cameroon was logged in compliance with the local legislation, should have
provided extensive evidence of this, especially where the countries in question
are prone to corruption and governance challenges, and should have adopted risk
mitigation measures. Moreover, another Dutch court recently ordered the Dutch
competent authorities to explain why they did not enforce the EUTR in cases
where due diligence requirements concerning timber imported from Brazil were
not met. In other EU member states, similar court decisions were adopted.
decisions show that the EUTR system, aimed at ‘doing business right’ in the
timber trade sector, is starting to take effect in practice. Could the ‘unilateral’
EUTR system form an example for other regimes that try to ensure that trade by
the EU with the rest of the world contributes to sustainable development and the
protection of human rights? And what role does the bilateral Voluntary
Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade
(FLEGT) between the EU and Indonesia play in this respect? More...