The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) is opposed to the impending signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement on the 4th of February in Auckland, New Zealand.
The concerns surrounding the TPP and its potential as a catalyst for social and human rights injustices have led the ANZASW to look closely at this trade agreement.
There are a number of areas for concern – namely, the disempowering nature of this agreement; the fact that many basic human rights will be taken away; the Investor State Dispute Settlements process (ISDS); lack of any Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA) and the secrecy surrounding the negotiations.
Lives of millions of the most marginalised of this earth may be severely affected if this agreement is allowed to become law. The United Nations expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order said, ‘it has been argued that ISDS tilts the playing field away from democratic accountability, favouring “big business” over the rights and interests of labourers and consumers’ (United Nations, 2015, para. 11).
As with the Public Health Association of New Zealand (PHA), the ANZASW, amongst other things, is concerned with the potential for currently available pharmaceuticals to become out of reach of many New Zealanders as a consequence of rising costs.
As members of the New Zealand Social Work Community it is our obligation to agitate against systems (both locally and internationally) that work against the basic human rights of the marginalised – our clients. Only through this work can we highlight the injustices, educate our fellow citizens to the discrimination being lavished across sectors of the population, and hopefully one day live in a world where every human being is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
The ANZASW asks the New Zealand Government to listen to its citizens and delay the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement at least until all interested parties have had a chance to clearly understand the impacts to New Zealanders of what has been agreed to.