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Ed Sheeran

Law experts shred TPPA treaty exception.

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Claimants opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement have filed 2000 pages of evidence and analysis with the Waitangi Tribunal.

The tribunal will hold an urgent hearing in March, but claimants say the Government will not only sign the 12-country trade pact in early February but will ratify it at executive level before the tribunal gets a chance to report on its treaty implications.

The submissions include a series of commissioned expert papers which have been posted online at the TPP Legal site.

Victoria University senior lecturer Carwyn Jones, who co-authored one of the papers with Associate Professor Claire Charters and Professor Jane Kelsey and Andrew Erueti from the University of Auckland, says Maori have long-standing concerns about law and policy relating to issues such as traditional knowledge, biodiversity and environmental management.

“The TPPA will hamper the ability of future governments to develop Treaty of Waitangi-consistent law and policy in these areas.

‘It is extremely disappointing that the Government would enter into such an agreement without securing effective protection for Maori, which the ‘Treaty of Waitangi Exception’ fails to do.

“All New Zealanders ought to be concerned that the TPPA is moving us further and further away from effective recognition of rights guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi, putting another obstacle in the way of reconciliation and the resolution of grievances,” Dr Jones says.

Mr Erueti says recent international human rights developments emphasize the critical importance of states engaging with indigenous communities on any issue that might impact on those communities and resources.

“The UN Declaration on the Rights of indigenous peoples requires that there be meaningful engagement and where it might be significantly impacted by any proposal, their free, prior and informed agreement.

“At the very least, in relation to the TPPA, the government needed to fully engage with Maori and ensure that their views were incorporated into any decision making. That has not happened,” he says.

Dr Kelsey says the Government appears to believe inserting an inadequate Treaty of Waitangi Exception absolves it of having to meet its Treaty obligations.


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