After Britain leaves the European Union, it will be free to determine its own trade policy and strike its own trade deals. With respect to human rights, this presents risks as well as opportunities. There is a significant danger that pressure to strike quick trade deals to boost prosperity, coupled with Britain’s reduced bargaining power, will result in a race to the bottom when it comes to aligning domestic regulatory standards with those of third countries. There’s also a danger that mechanisms designed to raise human rights standards abroad will be omitted from such deals.
However, there are also opportunities. The human rights mechanisms integrated into the EU’s current trade policy have been criticised as inadequate and ineffective. With Britain taking control over its own policy, we have the chance to adopt a more effective approach of
our own. There is also an important opportunity to weave duty of care into trade policy, making sure UK companies take responsibility for what happens in their supply chains.
This briefing will explore these issues in more detail.