Handbook on Human Rights Impact Assessment
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Handbook on Human Rights Impact Assessment

Edited by Nora Götzmann

Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) has increasingly gained traction among state, business and civil society actors since the endorsement of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by the Human Rights Council in 2011. This timely and insightful Handbook addresses HRIA in the context of business and human rights.
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Chapter 13: HRIA of trade agreements involving agriculture: Enabling innovative trade options that protect human rights

Elisabeth Buergi Bonanomi and Irene Musselli


Global trade has benefits but also poses risks. This is particularly true for trade in agriculture. Without context-specific trade rules, North–South trade can worsen people’s livelihoods. Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) can ensure that trade rules are shaped to support enabling environments for human rights realization. Important benchmarks include access to adequate food and maintenance of equitable working conditions; food-system diversity is also particularly relevant for shaping human-rights-conducive trade options. This chapter discusses how stakeholders can draw inspiration from existing sustainable agricultural trade theory and from empirical experience, as illustrated by the example of palm oil and the planned EFTA–Malaysia Free Trade Agreement. The chapter also elaborates on the growing momentum towards acknowledging trade measures relating to processes and production methods (PPMs). Finally, it considers whether a more pragmatic, deliberation-based approach to trade negotiations and the strengthening of the rule of law in external affairs could yield even better results.

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