Camboya - Partial withdrawal of EU’s Everything But Arms trade preference due to severe violations of human and trade union rights 

On 12 February 2020, the European Commission announced partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) eligibility of Cambodia due to systematic violations of human and political rights, freedom of assembly and expression. 
Following years of trade union campaigning, and the imminent threat of EBA withdrawal, a recent reform of the country’s Law on Trade Unions still failed to address key demands to bring the law into conformity with ILO standards and to protect freedom of association and the right to organise. The government has continued to file charges against trade union leaders, and organising or joining a union in garment factories and other sectors is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous. Anti-union discrimination is rampant.  
EBA is conditional on compliance with the principles of 15 UN/International Labour Organization conventions on core human and labour rights, and can be withdrawn if there is “serious and systematic violation” of those principles. The human rights situation in Cambodia is very poor. In February 2019 the European Commission identified three main problem areas in this country. The first of these is labour rights, with systematic harassment of independent trade unions and employees who exercise their right to strike.
With Cambodia being a major beneficiary under the EBA, the partial withdrawal is a test for Europe’s trade policy and its impact on human rights.

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