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Russia, Trade, and Human Rights

Russia, Trade, and Human Rights

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Cory Welt argues that the U.S. Senate should consider U.S.-Russian trade relations and human rights enforcement seriously, separately, and simultaneously.
Cory Welt argues that the U.S. Senate should consider U.S.-Russian trade relations and human rights enforcement seriously, separately, and simultaneously.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on May 01, 2012
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1Center or American Progress | Russia, Trade, and Human Rights
Russia, Trade, and Human Rights
 Thinking Through U.S. Policies
Cory Welt April 30, 2012
Te U.S. Congress in he coming monhs will consider wheher o gran “permanennormal rade relaions” wih Russia as par o Russia’s pending accession o he Worldrade Organizaion. Russian membership in he organizaion is a oregone conclusion, bu U.S. rade relaions wih Russia would suer i Congress balks a graning normal raderelaions o Moscow once Russia joins he organizaion. Furher complicaing he issueis wheher Congress should keep Russia on he lis o naions subjec o he Sovie-era Jackson-Vanik amendmen—which sill condiions U.S. rade on a counry’s respec orreedom o emigraion—or should replace i wih a new piece o human righs legislaion.Tis is why Congress and he Obama adminisraion need o houghully consider heproposedSergei Magnisky Rule o Law Accounabiliy Ac o 2011 , a bill wih bipari-san suppor ha seeks o impose visa bans and asse reezes on human righs violaorsin Russia.
Many o is supporers wan o condiion permanen normal rade relaions wih Russia, including is “graduaion” rom he Jackson-Vanik amendmen o he 1974U.S. rade Ac, on he passage o he Magnisky bill.
Tis urge o link he wo decisions is undersandable. I would be more eecive,however, o consider he decisions separaely bu simulaneously. So le’s look a eachdecision in urn.
U.S.-Russian trade relations
Graning permanen normal rade relaions o Russia is an economic imperaive. Tissaus is he norm ha governs U.S. rade relaions wih virually all counries in he world, regardless o wheher hey are allies, adversaries, or sies o serious human righs violaions. Te U.S. economy will ake he hi i he Unied Saes ails o gran Russiahis saus since mos o he res o he world will gain preerable access o he Russianmarke when Moscow joins he 153-naion World rade Organizaion.
2Center or American Progress | Russia, Trade, and Human Rights
 A he end o 2011, Russia was invied o join he organizaion, a decision ha heUnied Saes ully suppored. Te Russian parliamen will raiy Russia’s membership by his summer, aer which Russia will become he laes member o he organizaion. A recenreporby he Peersen Insiue or Inernaional Economics esimaes haRussia’s enry ino he organizaion could lead o a doubling in value o U.S. expors oRussia over jus he nex ew years (rom $11 billion in 2011 o $22 billion in 2017).
 Benes include lower aris on impored U.S. goods o Russia, proecion o inellec-ual propery, and arbiraion o rade dispues.I he Unied Saes does no gran Russia permanen normal rade relaions saus, henhe condiions o Russia’s accession o he organizaion, many o which were negoiaed by he Unied Saes, need no apply o U.S.-Russian rade (Russia has already said i will no apply hem). U.S. businesses will si on he sidelines while Russia’s oher rad-ing parners bene. Te Unied Saes will also have no access o mechanisms or hearbiraion o rade dispues.Many in Congress, led by Senae Finance Commitee Chairman Max Baucus (D-M),suppor graning Russia normal rade saus. TeU.S. Chamber o Commerceand heCoaliion or U.S.-Russia rade(which includes major exporing powerhouses such asBoeing Inc., Caerpillar Inc., Ciigroup Inc., General Elecric Co., Microso Corp., andTe Procer & Gamble Co.) suppor i.
Even Russian human righs aciviss and leadingopposiion guressuppornormal U.S.-Russian rade relaions.
 The Magnitsky Act
Tis brings us o he second issue a hand in Congress regarding Russia. Te Magnisky  Ac was inroduced by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), he co-chairman o he U.S.Helsinki Commission (which moniors human righs and inernaional cooperaion in56 counries), and co-sponsored by nearly a hird o Senae members, including 13 moreDemocras, 18 Republicans, and one independen. Similarlegislaionhas been wice inro-duced in he House o Represenaives wih equally impressive biparisan suppor.
Many o is supporers wan o make Russia’s normal rade saus coningen on passage o heMagnisky Ac. Many Russian human righs aciviss and opposiion gures who supporhe Unied Saes graning Russia normal rade relaions also suppor he Magnisky Ac.Te ac is named or Russian lawyer Sergei Magnisky, arresed in November 2008 a heage o 36 on rumped-up charges o assising he oreign invesmen rm he represened,Hermiage Capial Managemen, in ax evasion. Prior o his arres, Magnisky had uncov-ered evidence ha he invesigaion agains Hermiage was inended o cover up a schemeo deraud he Russian governmen o $230 million in ax income by ocials in Russia’sMinisry o Inernal Aairs and ax adminisraion. Magnisky’s healh severely deerio-raed in prison as auhoriies denied him appropriae medical care, kep him in unsaniary 
3Center or American Progress | Russia, Trade, and Human Rights
condiions, and ulimaely negleced o rea him as he suered rom a visibly painul andlie-hreaening condiion. Magnisky died aer nearly a year in prerial deenion.Te Obama adminisraion has already aken a key sep o ensure ha Magnisky’smurderers never ener he Unied Saes,imposingvisa bans on hose involved inMagnisky’s deah under auhoriy provided by he Immigraion and Nauralizaion Ac.
Te adminisraion also boass he auhoriy o ac agains human righs viola-ors in Russia hanks o he issuance o an Augus 2011presidenial proclamaionhasuspends he enry ino he Unied Saes o serious human righs violaors rom aroundhe world,includinghose involved in arbirary deenion.
Te Magnisky Ac, however, goes urher han he proclamaion, mandaing visa bansand asse reezes on wo caegories o individuals who will be placed on a public lis. Ters caegory includes hose implicaed in he Magnisky case—he individuals respon-sible or his “deenion, abuse, or deah,” hose who paricipaed in covering up heseacions, or hose who commited he acs o raud ha Magnisky had uncovered. Tesecond caegory is broader. I includes all hose who kill, orure, or oherwise infic“gross violaions” o human righs agains individuals who expose he crimes o Russiansae ocials or who seek o “obain, exercise, deend, or promoe inernaionally recog-nized human righs and reedoms.”Te goals o he Magnisky Ac are cerainly laudable, bu here are several problems wih he legislaion as i is currenly writen. Firs, i conains a number o ambiguiiesand peculiariies concerning he scope o is applicabiliy and mechanisms o implemen-aion ha undermine is uiliy. Tese include:
Is imposiion o sancions or acions aken agains specic persons and companies, asopposed o deerminaions o ongoing paricipaion in serious human righs violaions
Is imposiion o idenical sancions agains boh individuals who have commitedserious human righs violaions and hose who commited specic economic crimesagains a oreign rm
Is vague sandard or deermining he applicabiliy o sancions such as wheher hegovernmen “has reason o believe” individuals are responsible or cerain crimes asopposed o having “credible evidence” (he sandard or similar sancions Congresslegislaedin 2010 agains human righs violaors in Iran)
Is demand ha he reasury Deparmen invesigae cases o alleged money launder-ing ha have no apparen relaion o U.S. legal, business, or securiy concerns
Is insisence on a public lis or no only asse reezes bu also or visa bans—even houghhe Unied Saes rouinely does no publicize he names o hose o which i denies enry 
Is mandae o he Sae Deparmen o respond o congressional requess o pu indi- viduals on he public lis wihin 30 days and o provide an annual jusicaion i “ew or no” individuals are added in a given year

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