In Focus

Policy Brief 123, 14 December 2023

The WHO CA+ Discussions on Pathogen Access and Benefit Sharing: State of Play

 By Nirmalya Syam

This brief explores the scope of a World Health Organization (WHO) pathogen access and benefit-sharing (PABS) mechanism as a possible outcome of the negotiations ongoing in the WHO Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) for a WHO Convention, Agreement or other Instrument (WHO CA+) for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR). After seven sessions of the INB, substantial differences remain between developed and developing countries on the PABS system. While the text contains specific obligations on rapid sharing of pathogen material and genetic sequence information reflective of the primary interest of developed countries to get such access outside the framework of the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity through a specialized WHO instrument such as the PABS system under the WHO CA+, the current text continues to be weak in terms of effectively operationalizing fair and equitable-benefit sharing. To that end, it is critical that detailed provisions on standard material transfer agreements, data access relating to their genomic sequence information and specific obligations on monetary and non-monetary benefit-sharing by recipients of pathogen material and sequence information are included in the provisions establishing the PABS system. Therefore, it is important that the proposals that have been made in this regard by developing countries are incorporated in the draft negotiating text.

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Research Paper 188, 7 December 2023

The Intersection Between Intellectual Property, Public Health and Access to Climate-Related Technologies

By Lívia Regina Batista

On the 20th anniversary of the Doha Declaration on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and Public Health adopted by the World Trade Organization, we realize that its impact is beyond issues of public health stricto sensu. The Doha Declaration has inspired discussions at the Council for TRIPS regarding access to climate-related technologies. Climate change is the main and most globalized environmental problem with adverse effects on public health, especially for the vulnerable communities in the Global-South. The main argument of the proponents of the discussion in the TRIPS Council is the need to rebalance public interests (such as public health and environmental/climate issues) with the private/economic interests of the most powerful countries and corporations. This debate addresses both the recognition of intellectual property rights as an important means for the promotion of technological innovation, and the required wider dissemination of technologies – be they medicines or climate-related technologies. This research paper explores the possibilities that the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration create for international transfer of climate-related technologies. Even though such discussions on climate-related technologies have initially failed in linking climate change and public health, as well as the rhetoric of human rights, the relevance of the topic remains. Besides that, the response to public health issues also must learn from the experience in climate change, such as the case studies evidencing the insufficiency and inefficiency of fast-tracking programs to provide for a wider dissemination of technologies – which have now been widely replicated to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Such comparison can also be an entrance point to discuss the public health implications for the international regime on climate change, highlighting that such issues are deeply intertwined, and need to be addressed jointly as well.

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SouthViews No. 255, 6 December 2023

Climate crisis: anthropocene or corporatocene?

By Dr S Faizi

The author  argues that the term ‘anthropocene’ to denote the period of the modern environmental crisis is hollow and a political digression from the reality, and that the crisis is a product of corporate exploitation of the earth’s system. Putting the blame on the entire human society for the environmental crisis is a Western ideological ploy to shield the corporate culprits who have caused the destruction on the strength of their capital and technology. He therefore proposes the term ‘corporatocene’ to mark the epoch of environmental crisis. If anything it is the Western colonization and the invention of the steam engine that are the markers of the start of the pandemic assault on the earth’s natural systems. Obfuscating the debate on this by introducing politically motivated substitutes will only frustrate the efforts to forge meaningful solutions to the climate crisis.

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Research Paper 187, 4 December 2023

The Global Digital Compact: opportunities and challenges for developing countries in a fragmented digital space

By Carlos Correa, Danish, Vitor Ido, Jacquelene Mwangi and Daniel Uribe

The adoption of a Global Digital Compact (GDC) as one of the outcomes of the Summit of the Future opens up the opportunity to address in a systematic manner issues that are of critical importance for the digital global governance. It also poses a challenge to developing countries, as most of them lack the infrastructure and capabilities to fully participate in the digital transformation. Many inequalities, including a deep digital divide, do exist and would need to be addressed by the GDC for it to become a real instrument of change and improvement in the living conditions and the prospects of a better future for most of the world population. This paper examines the current fragmentation in the digital governance and some of the issues raised by the proposals made by the UN Secretary-General for adoption of the GDC.

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Policy Brief 122, 30 November 2023

Data Access and the EU Data Strategy: Implications for the Global South

By Marc Stuhldreier

This study explores the value of data in the digital economy and the challenges surrounding data ownership, access rights, and equitable distribution of the value. It examines the European Data Strategy and highlights its shortcomings as well as its implications for the Global South. This contribution emphasises the need for unlocking the potential of collected data by enhancing accessibility and challenging protectionist measures and discusses the importance of fair competition and innovation. It also discusses the importance of balancing access rights with legitimate privacy concerns, trade secrets, and intellectual property rights. The paper concludes by highlighting the importance for developing countries to introduce tailored regulations that suit their specific needs, empowering them to seize opportunities and navigate the digital economy effectively.

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SC Statement on COP28, 30 November 2023

THE WORLD EXPECTS COP28 TO AGREE ON CONCRETE CLIMATE ACTION

COP28 has raised expectations around the world that concrete actions will be taken to address the climate crisis, which is having devastating effects notably in developing countries. Read our statement:

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SC Statement – Conference on SSC in International Tax Matters, 27 November 2023

Opening Remarks by Dr. Carlos Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre, at the “Conference on South-South Cooperation in International Tax Matters: Don’t cede your taxing rights by signing a blank cheque”, co-organized with the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (27 November 2023)

The Conference is taking place at a time of severe challenges to the global economy and, particularly, for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Rising borrowing costs, tight global financial conditions and high debt burdens are constraining the fiscal space of many developing countries. These conditions make domestic resource mobilization through tax collection more important than ever. The taxation of foreign multinational corporations in the digital economy, in particular the Big Tech firms, has now become imperative both for providing much-needed revenues and for levelling the playing field of domestic companies in our countries.

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SC Statement – UN Resolution on UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation, 23 November 2023

Statement by the South Centre on the Historic UN Resolution Calling for a UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation

 23 November 2023

 The South Centre strongly welcomes the adoption on 22 November 2023 of the historic resolution in the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly on the “Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations”. The resolution calls for establishing a “Member State-led, open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee for the purpose of drafting terms of reference for a United Nations framework convention on international tax cooperation” and is arguably the most significant development in international taxation in the modern era. The South Centre has been actively engaged in supporting these negotiations, in partnership with various institutions from the Global South and allies from the Global North, and commends the African Group in the UN in New York for their leadership of the developing world in steering through this momentous resolution.

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SC Statement on USTR JSI E-Commerce Decision, 15 November 2023

U-turn by the U.S. Trade Representative to rein in the Big Tech Digital Trade Agenda

15 November 2023

The landmark shift by the U.S. Trade Rrepresentative to set aside four proposals to ensure “policy space” for the U.S. is a welcomed development under the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) negotiations on E-commerce on the side lines of the WTO. This decision validates the positions taken by governments in the Global South for the last seven years. There remain several provisions in the negotiating text that will be detrimental to the development of domestic digital industries in developing countries.

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Documento de investigación 186, 14 de noviembre de 2023

Patentamiento de anticuerpos monoclonales. El caso de Argentina 

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

Este documento de investigación tiene como objeto identificar, describir y analizar las patentes concedidas por el Instituto Nacional de la Propiedad Industrial (INPI) de Argentina, en materia de anticuerpos monoclonales desde el año 2010 al 2020 inclusive. La investigación incluye la materia protegida y el universo de solicitantes, entre otros aspectos. Para ello, se procedió a construir una base de datos de patentes y solicitudes, donde se examinan las características de las patentes solicitadas y concedidas, titularidad y nacionalidad de los solicitantes, estado de las solicitudes, tiempo que demora la resolución de una patente solicitada y patentes divisionales. El documento presenta también recomendaciones de política pública aplicables a las patentes sobre anticuerpos monoclonales.

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SouthViews No. 254, 10 November 2023

Digital Health Challenges in the South: Towards Better Integration of Digital Health Practices

By Dr. Azeema Fareed and Ms. Farhana Saleem (COMSATS)

Much like any innovation, diffusion of digital health technologies in different countries depends on their level of development, availability of infrastructure, socio-economic conditions and indigenous strengths and weaknesses, political will and stability, demographics as well as social norms. Naturally for developing countries, social, economic, and technological set-backs make digital health adoption, implementation and mainstreaming more challenging. Using WHO’s e-Health components, this article highlights key challenges impacting digital health adoption in developing countries in the light of COMSATS’ experience.

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SC Statement to INB 7, 6 November 2023

Statement by the South Centre to the INB 7

6 November 2023

As the intergovernmental think tank of developing countries, we are pleased to provide our support to these negotiations.

The current negotiating text is not yet fit for purpose.

We encourage the INB this week to reflect on and improve the negotiating text…

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