International Financial Institutions

May 19, 2017

Time to Invest in Human Rights

Amnesty International’s evolving interest in the field of trade, investment and human rights reflects a wider critical focus on the human rights implications of international trade and investment agreements.

A broad spectrum of bodies ranging from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to research institutes, think tanks and pressure groups have questioned how international trade and investment rules are framed.

Of particular concern is the lack of reference to international human rights law, as well as the lack of transparency of application of these rules and of mechanisms for resolving disputes.

Amnesty is also concerned by aspects of the legal framework within which these investments are made, with contracts that are called State-Investor Agreements, or Host Government Agreements, between companies and governments.

While these contracts are little known, rarely studied, and generally confidential, they may have important implications for the enjoyment of human rights. They may provide incentives for the host state and company to disregard their human rights obligations and responsibilities.