October 21, 2016

Roundtable on African Continental Free Trade Agreement and Human Rights

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) is another envisioned mega-regional economic agreement standing alongside TPP, TTIP, RCEP, and others. The potential of a comprehensive economic governance institution or framework emerging in Africa with its high economic and population growth raises important questions as to its potential effects, its winners and losers, and ways to address these associated concerns. Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) present an important technology of governance with which such concerns can be meaningfully assessed and gathered insights fed back into the policy process.

On 21 October 2016, the MegaReg project hosted a roundtable on these questions with James Gathii from Loyola Law School, Kim Burnett an Ottawa-based independent consultant, David Luke from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and Susan Mathews from Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Since July 2016 these four researchers have been conducting a full HRIA of the CFTA which to explore three case studies:
(1) how the trade liberalization likely to be integrated into the CFTA might support and/or undermine the right to food and livelihoods;
(2) how increased intra-regional trade from the CFTA is likely to adversely impact the agro-industry sector and how to ensure the right to an adequate standard of living; and
(3) how the CFTA will affect informal cross-border traders (ICBTs) across Africa, and women in particular, who already face many risks and challenges.

For a discussion on the CFTA and these themes the four researchers were joined by Angelina Fisher, Edefe Ojomo, and Paul Mertenskötter from the NYU Law community. The discussions extended to questions about economic governance, and its relation to agriculture, the environment, migration, labor relations, and human rights in Africa.

The event was co-sponsored by the IILJ and the Africa Law Association and received generous support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.