In Focus

Policy Brief 126, 23 February 2024

Leveraging ESG for promoting Responsible Investment and Human Rights

 By Danish and Daniel Uribe

The growing integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles into investment frameworks and corporate reporting reflects a heightened recognition of the interplay between business operations and human rights. This Policy Brief examines the evolution of ESG investing, particularly its role in promoting responsible investment and embedding human rights considerations throughout business practices and supply chains. While ESG frameworks hold promise for enhancing corporate accountability and sustainability, challenges persist in effectively linking ESG criteria with human rights standards. It also shows that disparities in ESG reporting criteria and methodologies, compounded by a lack of shared understanding, pose obstacles to meaningful engagement with human rights responsibilities. The Policy Brief also delineates between ESG investing and reporting, highlighting distinct objectives and practices. While ESG investing aims to mitigate financial risks associated with environmental, social, and governance factors, ESG reporting focuses on evaluating firms’ exposure to ESG risks. The Policy Brief underscores the limitations of ESG frameworks in identifying and preventing human rights impacts comprehensively, emphasising the need for complementary measures such as mandatory human rights due diligence. Finally, the paper considers the need for greater coherence and consistency in ESG frameworks to foster responsible investment, promote human rights, and advance sustainable development goals.

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SouthViews No. 256, 22 February 2024

How Should the WHO Pandemic Treaty Negotiations Tackle Intellectual Property?

By Viviana Muñoz Tellez

The WHO pandemic instrument should commit the Parties to limit the exclusionary effects that government-granted patents and other IPRs may have during pandemics in support of rapid diffusion of new vaccines, diagnostics, medicines and other tools and facilitate collaboration and freedom to operate. The current draft text of Article 11 would not make any change to the status quo.

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SC Statement to the WHO INB8, 19 February 2024

South Centre Statement to the WHO INB8

The pandemic instrument must increase equity, multilateral cooperation and accountability. See the South Centre’s statement to the 8th meeting of the World Health Organization’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body:

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Research Paper 194, 15 February 2024

Implementation of TRIPS Flexibilities and Injunctions: A Case Study of India

by Shirin Syed

The proponents of intellectual property (IP) have increasingly utilized injunctions with indiscriminate propensity as a strategic tool for IP enforcement, resulting in adverse socio-economic implications, including the enjoyment of human rights. This trend has eclipsed the flexibilities provided in the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. Although a substantial volume of the literature focuses on the flexibilities of compulsory license or scope of patentability, little attention has been given to the flexibilities related to IP enforcement. Discussing the implications of IP enforcement on public interest, the paper examines the gaps in the articulation of flexibilities of intellectual property rights (IPRs) enforcement, with special reference to injunctions in India. It examines how far the courts consider the implications on the enjoyment of fundamental rights while granting injunctions on patents. This paper argues that the Indian courts have deviated from the cautious approach provisioned under the TRIPS flexibilities that allows the courts to consider the public interest aspect and human rights implications while granting injunctions in patent litigation. Moreover, it asserts that the courts should exercise prudence in granting injunctive relief in cases involving patent infringement, and take into account the potential impact of such relief on the exercise of human rights. This suggests a need for a careful examination of the potential implications of injunctive remedies in such cases.

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Policy Brief 125, 12 February 2024

WTO MC13: TRIPS Issues and Technology Transfer

 by Viviana Munoz Tellez, Nirmalya Syam

This Policy Brief discusses issues concerning trade, intellectual property, and technology transfer that are most relevant for consideration at the 13th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024 and inclusion in its outcomes.

The following recommendations are proposed:

  • TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints: MC13 Decision on the scope and modalities of non-violation and situation complaints under the Agreement on Trade related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). A second option is to extend the moratorium.
  • TRIPS, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19: MC13 Decision that extends the MC12 TRIPS waiver Decision (only applicable to vaccines) to diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity: to be addressed in the MC13 Outcome Document
  • Follow up to the MC12 Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics: to be addressed in the MC13 Outcome Document
  • Relationship of trade and technology transfer: include in the MC13 Outcome Document to reinvigorate and give direction to the Working Group on Trade and Technology Transfer (WGTTT) and increase attention in all relevant bodies on how the WTO can promote technology transfer

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SC Input to OHCHR Report on Loss & Damage and Human Rights, 7 February 2024

Inputs for the analytical study on the impact of loss and damage from the adverse effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 53/6 on human rights and climate change

31 January 2024

The adverse impacts of climate related loss & damage on human rights in the Global South require concrete actions. Our submission shows that a just and fair green transition requires protecting human rights while prioritizing the needs of developing countries, especially by providing climate finance, access to green tech and integrating human rights in climate actions.

See the inputs provided by South Centre to an upcoming study by the UN Secretary-General. The study will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2024.

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Policy Brief 124, 5 February 2024

How the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism discriminates against foreign producers

By Peter Lunenborg and Vahini Naidu

In April 2023, the European Parliament adopted the final text of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and revisions to the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading System (ETS). One of the stated objectives of CBAM is to create a level playing field for selected sectors in the EU market and to protect against the risk of ‘carbon leakage’. Based on an analysis and comparison between the legal texts of CBAM and ETS, this paper finds that CBAM discriminates against foreign producers in favour of EU domestic producers in many areas including with regard to the scope and type of emissions covered, free allocation of allowances, exemptions under EU ETS not mirrored in CBAM, buying and selling of ETS allowances in comparison with CBAM certificates, verification, penalties, authorization, use of credits from the Carbon Development Mechanism (CDM) and guarantees.

The paper also provides a brief overview of how the CBAM and ETS align with WTO rules, highlighting the potential discrepancies in the implementation as they apply to foreign and EU producers respectively. The paper provides several suggestions on how to make EU’s CBAM more WTO-compatible and a recommendation for further legal research.

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SC Statement – 7th WHO WGIHR, 6 February 2024

South Centre Statement to the 7th meeting of the WHO Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005)

6 February 2024

The South Centre urges the WGIHR to ensure that equity issues are substantially addressed in the process of amendments to the IHR in accordance with decision EB150(3) which mandates the WHGIHR to “… address clearly identified issues, challenges, including equity …” in this process. To that end member States have submitted important textual proposals that seek to advance equity concerns in the IHR. As the WGIHR negotiations advance towards their culmination, it is critical that these proposals on equity, in particular articles, 13, 13A, 44 and 44A, are prioritised and treated on an equal footing with the other amendment proposals. Textual proposals on equity provisions should not be deferred to be addressed only in the INB negotiations, noting that while the INB negotiations concern an international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, the IHR is an instrument that is different in scope and deals with public health emergencies of international concern. Equity issues are critical in both instruments.

Documento de investigación 193, 2 de febrero de 2024

Desafíos actuales y posibles escenarios futuros de la salud mundial  

By Germán Velásquez

Hace cuatro décadas los principales actores en la salud global eran la Organización Mundial de la salud (OMS), el Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF) y los Estados Unidos de América y los países de Europa del Norte (mediante cooperación bilateral). Hoy asistimos a la proliferación de actores en este campo si bien con diferentes roles , ámbito de acción y niveles de influencia: La OMS, UNICEF, el Programa Conjunto de las Naciones Unidas sobre el VIH/SIDA (ONUSIDA), UNITAID,  la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC), la Organización Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual (OMPI), el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD),  la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO), el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI), el Banco Mundial, el G7 y el G20, el G77+China, el Movimiento de No Alineados, los BRICS (Brasil, Rusia, India, China y Sudáfrica), el Fondo Global, GAVI,  COVAX, la industria farmacéutica, Bill & Melinda Gates y otras fundaciones y organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONGs) sin o con ánimo de lucro.

Este documento de investigación analiza el papel de los múltiples actores (públicos, privados y filantrópicos) en la salud global y, con base a ello, procura esbozar posibles escenarios futuros. En particular, examina el papel de la OMS bajo cuyos auspicios los países miembros están, desde hace dos años, negociando una reforma del Reglamento Sanitario Internacional (RSI) del 2005 y la posible adopción de un nuevo instrumento internacional para prevenir y dar una respuesta a futuras pandemias como la del COVID-19. La aplicación de estos instrumentos, si se adoptaran, estaría en manos de la OMS, uno de los principales actores de la salud mundial.

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Documento de investigación 192, 30 de enero de 2024

Pautas para el examen de patentes sobre anticuerpos monoclonales  

Por Juan Correa, Catalina de la Puente, Ramiro Picasso y Constanza Silvestrini

La investigación tiene como objetivo conocer el estado de las solicitudes de patente en materia de anticuerpos monoclonales (mAbs). El documento analiza las distintas estrategias en materia de reivindicaciones que utilizan los solicitantes con el fin de obtener protección por derecho de patentes. Se utilizó como fuente de información la base de datos construida y descrita en el Documento de Investigación No. 186 de South Centre. Se indaga sobre las principales reivindicaciones utilizadas en el campo de los mAbs, el tipo de clasificación CIP y el tipo de invención (producto o proceso) más frecuente en las patentes concedidas vigentes o caducas en Argentina. Finalmente, se analiza la utilización de las directrices de patentamiento argentinas en el caso de mAbs y se hacen recomendaciones respecto de posibles reformas a dichas directrices.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief No. 37, 29 January 2024

A Decade of the Indian Advance Pricing Agreement Programme: Achievements and Challenges

By Priyanka Mashelkar and Apoorv Tiwari

India’s Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) programme was introduced in 2012 with the objective of reducing transfer pricing disputes and providing certainty to taxpayers on their international transactions. In the last decade or so, the programme has proven to be a successful dispute mitigation and resolution mechanism. The authors use data and statistics from a recently released report by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in India to highlight the success of the programme, while also acknowledging the challenges ahead, especially as taxpayers’ expectations from the programme continue to rise.

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