UN: US trade deal may hurt Colombia’s poor

The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday urged Colombia to protect its vulnerable populations from the impact of the country’s free trade agreements and the ongoing war on drugs, reports Portofolio.

The committee recommended that Colombia “considers revising the intellectual property provisions of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States in order to guarantee protection against a rise in the price of medicines, particularly for those with low incomes.”

“The state must protect its poorest sectors from the negative impacts that the free trade agreements can have, such as the issue of the price of medicine,” the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights announced after concluding a meeting about Colombia.

The FTA with the U.S. was signed in 2006, and passed by Colombian Congress in 2007. The deal is currently awaiting the approval of U.S. Congress.

In regards to Colombia’s war on drugs, the committee warned that the country’s drug fumigation policy could be harmful to food products, the health of residents, and the economic livelihood of peasant farmers whose crops and lands are destroyed.

The committee urged the government to ensure transparency in its fight against drugs, and promote alternative economic activities for those that cultivate coca.

The UN committee also denounced continued violence against Colombian trade unionists, and the rape and murder of women and girls by illegal armed groups and the armed forces.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is “a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights,” according to its website.

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