In this FPC Briefing Sam Fowles argues that human rights are the ultimate arbiter of the relationship between the state and the individual, yet a new generation of trade and investment agreements are increasingly subjecting human rights to the interests of international investors.
Fowles writes that this ’Second Generation’ of agreements has transformed provisions intended to protect investors from state overreach, into guarantees of preferential treatment. This allows investors to exert an unprecedented level of influence on governments. This has often been brought to bear in relation to human rights, with international investors able to compel governments to abandon or roll back measures indented to protect and promote rights. Fowles believes that with Brexit approaching, the UK must shortly embrace Second Generation treaties. Negotiators must, therefore, take account of the risks such instruments pose to fundamental human rights.