Strengthening United Nations Actions in the Field of Human Rights through the Promotion of International Cooperation
Geneva, 24 February 2023
The South Centre submits the following written contribution to the United Nations Secretary General’s Report on ‘Strengthening the United Nations’ action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation’, in line with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution A/RES/76/164, adopted on 16 December 2021. The resolution recognises the need for respecting the political, economic and social realities of each society in compliance with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. The report to be presented by the Secretary-General to the UNGA represents an important opportunity to recognise that global challenges do not affect all societies equally, and that they require a broader consideration of policies and innovative solutions that can cater to the unique realities and specific needs of each society.
The UPOV accession process: Preventing appropriate PVP laws for new members
By Nirmalya Syam, Shirin Syed, and Viviana Munoz-Tellez
The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an intergovernmental organization established by the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants adopted in Paris in 1961. UPOV requires its contracting parties to establish an intellectual property system for plant varieties that favors the interests of commercial plant breeders but does not address the needs of farming systems in developing countries or the rights of smallholder farmers.
The accession process for new countries to UPOV as provided in the UPOV Convention is based on an examination of conformity of the plant variety protection (PVP) law of the acceding country with obligations under the UPOV Convention. Only if the UPOV Council gives a positive decision on the basis of such conformity examination, the acceding state can deposit its instrument of accession. This accession process does not allow new members any flexibility to adapt their national PVP law to their own needs and accommodate their traditional agricultural sector and related public policy issues such as the livelihoods of farmers, sustainable agriculture, and implications for food security. Prior UPOV members have greater flexibility than new members in enacting domestic legislation to implement the obligations under the 1991 Act by adopting their own interpretations of the obligations, which cannot be reviewed by the UPOV Council at the time of their accession to the 1991 Act.
The various acts of the convention were essentially negotiated between developed countries. The UPOV accession procedure is unique compared to intellectual property treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as well as the accession processes in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Convention on Biological Diversity and its protocols, or the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. None of these agreements have an obligatory conformity examination of national legislation before accession. In addition, the UPOV Council’s decisions regarding examination of conformity are not always consistent, and significant discretion is exercised by the UPOV Secretariat in interpreting the provisions of the convention as well as their implementation in national law. The UPOV Council’s guidance document for the preparation of laws in accordance with the 1991 Act also provides an extremely narrow interpretation of the provisions of the convention.
Therefore, developing countries should consider whether, instead of accession to UPOV, it would be better for them to adopt their own sui generis system of PVP which allows them to enact a law in accordance with their needs and circumstances. It would also be important for the UPOV Council to adopt a national deference principle in conformity examinations; limit the examinations to a review of adopted laws, as the convention does not mandate the council or the secretariat to intervene in the process of development of national PVP laws; and not undertake additional examinations after a positive decision is given.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas and the Right to Seeds in Africa
Geneva Academy Briefing No. 22
By Karine Peschard, Christophe Golay and Lulbahri Araya
Pursuant to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), the African Union and African states should ensure that their regional & national laws & policies, as well as international bodies to which they are party, lead to effective protection of peasant rights, including their right to seeds.
The Geneva Academy acknowledges the support of the South Centre for the production of this publication.
South Centre Supports Debates on Developments in Copyright Law and Access to Knowledge in Africa
By Vitor Ido
A conference “A Right to Research in Africa? A Week of Debates on Copyright and Access to Knowledge” took place on 23-27 January 2023 at the University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The gathering of scholars, artists, librarians, researchers and government officials had the objective to discuss the evolution of copyright law and the role of limitations and exceptions (L&Es) to advance research in Africa. The week of debates was co-organized by the South Centre, ReCreate South Africa, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) – American University Washington College of Law, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), the University of Pretoria – Future Africa, the University of Cape Town – IP Unit, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) – Strathmore University, Wikimedia Foundation and Masakhane.
El debate sobre la exención de los derechos de propiedad intelectual en tiempos de pandemia
El 11 de marzo de 2020 la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) comunicó que la enfermedad por coronavirus de 2019 (COVID-19), podía ser considerada una pandemia. A medida que el contagio de la enfermedad aumentaba se hizo evidente la insuficiencia de los recursos sanitarios, vacunas y métodos de diagnóstico y tratamiento para enfrentar con éxito la pandemia. En este contexto, en la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC) se reavivó la tensión entre las reglas de propiedad intelectual y la salud pública.
Como consecuencia de ello, el 2 de octubre de 2020, Sudáfrica e India, presentaron ante la OMC una propuesta para que ciertas disposiciones del Acuerdo sobre los ADPIC no resultaran de aplicación para cualquier producto o procedimiento destinado a la prevención, contención y tratamiento de la COVID-19. Esta propuesta de exención (waiver), contó con la férrea oposición de la Unión Europea que presentó una propuesta alternativa. Para intentar llegar a un acuerdo se formó una comisión cuadrilateral conformada por Sudáfrica, India, la Unión Europea y EEUU. Finalmente, luego de dos años de negociaciones y en el marco de la 12ª Conferencia Ministerial (MC12) celebrada en Ginebra el 17 de junio de 2022, se aprobó un proyecto de exención de los derechos de propiedad intelectual que dista mucho de la propuesta original de 2020.
El presente trabajo, analiza detalladamente el proceso de discusión – en torno al tema del “waiver” – dado en el Consejo de los ADPIC de la OMC: estudia los antecedentes de la propuesta de exención, analiza los documentos presentados por las partes en pugna, revisa los argumentos esgrimidos a favor y en contra del waiver, los instrumentos propuestos y, asimismo, muestra cómo se desenvolvieron las distintas posiciones hasta alcanzar el acuerdo final.
Autores: Alejandra Aoun, Juan Correa, Martín A. Cortese, Vanesa Lowenstein, Sandra C. Negro, Guillermo E. Vidaurreta
Policy responses for fostering South-South and Triangular Cooperation in response to the food crisis in the area of trade
By Peter Lunenborg
The Russia-Ukraine conflict since 24 February 2022 and the various sanctions imposed on Russia are having tremendous global repercussions, including on developing countries. This world is already experiencing multiple crises such as COVID-19 and measures in response to the virus including lockdowns, money printing and increases in government debts, conflicts and tensions in other parts of the world as well as climate change and extreme weather events such as extreme flooding or droughts. The conflict is compounding and aggravating these shocks.
In the short to medium term, prices in particular for energy (oil, gas), derived products (fertilizers) and food (in particular cereals) will remain elevated. Availability might also suffer. As a result, food insecurity is and will remain a serious concern in the near and medium term. Policy actions are required to mitigate any potential famine(s) which may arise and to build resilience for the future.
This paper explores concrete options for developing countries to address food insecurity in the short, medium and long term, including purchase policies, better implementation of WTO rules and increase in domestic investment in wheat and fertilizers production.
Leading and Coordinating Global Health: Strengthening the World Health Organization
By Nirmalya Syam
The World Health Organization (WHO) should act as the directing and coordinating authority in global health but it has been steadily marginalized over time by design, through criticism as an inefficient organization, the reduction of assessed contributions and consequent impoverishment, and the proliferation of “new” international health agencies to which WHO has been compelled to cede operational space. This paper discusses how such marginalization of the WHO is in the interest of the dominant actors in global health, and leads to the neglect of health as a development issue. Today the global health system is more fragmented than it was when the WHO was established in 1948. Rich donor countries and corporations dominate multistakeholder governance structures in health partnerships, marginalizing most of the WHO membership and, notably, the Global South, in their decision-making. A consequence of this fragmentation in global health governance is that the space of the only multilateral organization where developing countries have an equal presence in terms of participation and decision-making as sovereign States –WHO– has been marginalized. Consequently, the development dimension of health is also marginalized and only the development assistance aspects of it receive major attention through vertical programmes and agencies addressing limited health needs without effectively addressing the basic need of strengthening health systems. Therefore, for developing countries it is imperative that WHO is effectively retooled to act as the leading and coordinating authority on global health with adequate legal powers, as well as institutional and financial capacities to do so without undue influence from donor countries and entities that have interests in the private sector. This would enable WHO to ensure that the interests of all countries are fairly addressed in its normative and operational activities. Such a transformation of WHO would require action both within and outside the organization. The paper proposes some suggestions in this regard.
Analysis of COVID-Related Patents for Antibodies and Vaccines
By Kausalya Santhanam
This paper provides an analysis of patents covering selected antibodies and vaccines used in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. The aim of the report is to support national patent offices and interested parties in developing countries with information that can serve as guidance for the examination of the claims contained in relevant patents or patent applications. The antibody combination considered for the patent analysis in this paper are Casirivimab and Imdevimab. The vaccines considered for the patent analysis are mRNA-1273, Sputnik, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222). The analysis was completed in May 2022.
Directives pour l’examen des demandes de brevet relatives aux produits pharmaceutiques
Par Carlos M Correa
Ce document fait suite à un document antérieur, Directives applicables à l’examen des brevets pharmaceutiques: examen des brevets pharmaceutiques du point de vue de la santé publique, publié en 2007 comme document de travail par le Centre international pour le commerce et le développement durable (CICDD), la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le commerce et le développement (CNUCED) et l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS).
Le présent document tient compte des évolutions survenues depuis la publication du document de travail CICDD-CNUCED-OMS en 2007. Il comprend de nouveaux exemples de demandes et/ou de délivrance de brevets, ainsi qu’une analyse et des références aux initiatives d’un certain nombre de pays qui ont adopté des lois et/ou des politiques visant à prendre en compte les considérations de santé publique dans l’examen des demandes de brevets.
Avec ce document, l’objectif est de fournir des orientations pour l’élaboration ou la révision de directives sur les processus d’examen des brevets dans les pays en développement, en réponse aux préoccupations concernant l’augmentation du nombre de brevets dans le secteur pharmaceutique. À cette fin, un certain nombre de recommandations sont formulées en ce qui concerne l’examen des demandes de brevetabilité relatives aux produits et procédés pharmaceutiques.
Ce document est une traduction de la version originale des “Directives pour l’examen des demandes de brevet relatives aux produits pharmaceutiques” publiées en anglais par le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD). Le South Centre remercie le PNUD pour l’aimable autorisation de publier cette version non officielle. Traduit pour le South Centre par M. Natanael França.
Graduating from the LDC Group: Challenges Facing Bangladesh
by Mustafizur Rahman
A significant number of LDCs will be graduating in the near term future. On graduation these countries will face formidable challenges as they will lose the benefits accruing from LDC-specific international support measures. Bangladesh is the first major LDC which is slated for graduation, to take place in November 2026. This article examines the various graduation challenges facing Bangladesh, and articulates some of the strategies that the country needs to pursue in order to graduate with momentum and make graduation sustainable.
Transfer pricing remains a highly complex and challenging area for developing countries. The ultimate objective of transfer pricing is to determine a market price for intra-company transactions, but doing this in practice is a largely subjective exercise, which makes it prone to abuse and profit shifting. Developing countries lose billions of dollars in revenue each year due to abusive transfer pricing.
Amount B is important for developing countries as it seeks to provide a simple method through which in-scope intra-company transactions can be priced, which can potentially ease tax administration, reduce disputes and increase tax certainty. However, the current form of the proposal renders it highly complex and unlikely to achieve its stated objective of simplification.