FTA Watch and allies sent an appeal to the Special Rapporteur, urging for monitoring the Thai governmentís violation of right to access to medicines of Thai people through FTAs Thailand-the US

FTA Watch Press Release
June 15, 2005

Today the FTA Watch and allies submitted an urgent appeal to Mr Paul Hunt, the Special Rapporteur of the commission on Human Rights on the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, expressing a concern especially over the bilateral trade negotiations between Thailand and the US in the fourth round of the talk. The negotiation is due to be held on July 11, 2005 in Montana, the United States of America. The letter addressed the US demand on expansion of Intellectual Property (IP) rules, which will undermine Thailandís ability to access to medicines. Moreover, it is likely that some other countries including Japan and EFTA countries (consisting of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) will use the US demand as their benchmarks in their trade negotiations with Thailand.

The FTA Watch and allies requested the Special Rapporteur to monitor and remind the Thai government of its obligations to protect the right of people to have their highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which should not be undermined by economic interests in FTA negotiations. Moreover, it is highly important that the Thai government be reminded to ensure accessibility of information and texts of the negotiations, public participation, comprehensive assessment of the effects of TRIPS-plus rules on the access to affordable medicines and the realisation of the right to health before making any trade commitments. (See details in the letter)

The undersigned organisations are Thai human rights advocates, people living with HIV/AIDS and civil society groups that are Access Foundation; Alternative Agriculture Network, Biodiversity and Community Rights Action Thailand; Center for Aids Rights; Confederation of Consumer Organization; Drug Study Group; Focus on the Global South (Thailand); Foundation for Consumers; FTA Watch; Medecins Sans Frontiers-Belgium (Thailand); NGO Coordinating Committee On Development; Thai Action on Globalisation; Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS; Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS; The Assembly of the Poor; The Rural Reconstruction Alumni and Friends Association; The Strategic Policy on Natural Resources Base Project, National Human Right Commission.

The submission of the letter to the Special Rapporteur is in accordance to the United Nationís human rights monitoring process that each member country has committed to international obligations on human rights. In 2002, the UN commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur, whose mandate focuses on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, reflected in article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), as well as on the right to non-discrimination as reflected in article 5 (e) (iv) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The process allows a submission of individual complaint. If the Special Rapporteur deems the issue important, he may undertake country visits, request necessary information and seek clarification. If there is right violation, he will communicate with the government and remind it of its obligations under international law in relation to the right to health.

Mr Paul Hunt, the present Special Rapporteur of the Commission of Human Rights on the right to health, comes from New Zealand. In the past, Thailand was requested only once by a Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for a country visit in 2003. However, the Thai governmentís response to the visit was defensive, which created a negative image of the country as a UN member.

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