Will ACTA Ever Be A Real Treaty?
from the might-be-tough dept
With the EU Parliament rejecting ACTA over the summer, and the Japanese legislature doing a drive-by ratification, there are some legitimate questions as to whether or not ACTA will ever become a real, valid international treaty. Without the EU’s support, it’s a hell of a lot less likely, certainly. I’d been joking that it was beginning to look like it’s going to become an agreement between the US… and Morocco, but the actual process to make ACTA official requires six participants to have “ratified” it. While a bunch of countries have signed, that’s still a step short of ratification. And, to date, only Japan has done so (though there are arguments over whether or not the US needs Congressional approval for ratification). Monika Ermert, over at IP-Watch, details the current situation. Here’s a snippet:
With an apparent stalemate between the US administration and legislators about ratification procedures and the European Union out after the Parliament voted against the agreement, it looks as if there is still an uphill battle to get to reach that number.
Besides the EU and Japan, seven governments have signed ACTA (Australia, Canada, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States). Switzerland has not signed nor ratified.
“Not much is happening on the Canadian front,” wrote Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa and long-time ACTA observer. “Canada signed ACTA, but has not ratified. Ratification would likely require some legislative amendments,” Geist said, and until those changes are introduced the country would not be positioned to ratify. There may be, according to Geist, linkage between ACTA and CETA (the Canada-EU Trade Agreement) under negotiation.
Britton Broun, media advisor of the Economic Group in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment of New Zealand, responded to Intellectual Property Watch by saying: “While New Zealand has signed ACTA, the government has not yet taken a decision on its ratification.”
As we’ve discussed, Australia’s Parliament has already recommended rejecting ACTA, and it appears that ratification has stalled out there as well. Ermert suggests that really the only way that ACTA might reach the necessary levels of ratification will be if other countries follow Japan’s method of approval — by which they effectively sneak it through.
Along those lines, her report confirms what we’d heard about how the ruling party in Japan effectively got ratification without actually bothering to allow the opposition to take part:
But on 31 August, a committee of the House of Representatives, and on 6 September, the full House of Representatives pushed ACTA through, each time counting only the votes of the ruling party.
“To ratify an international treaty without the attendance of all opposition parties means a collapse of democracy in Japan,” warned Suzawa.
While ACTA hasn’t received that much attention in Japan, allowing the government to get away with such shenanigans, it seems likely that any attempt to do something similar elsewhere would be met with more widespread resistance. In other words, it seems unlikely that enough countries will actually get around to ratifying ACTA — though we should never underestimate the tricks that lobbyists and diplomats will pull to try to shove this ugly pig over the finish line.