STATEMENT BY THE SOUTH CENTRE ON THE WTO DOHA MINISTERIAL DECLARATION ON TRIPS AND PUBLIC HEALTH ON ITS TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY
Twenty years since its adoption on this day, the WTO Doha Declaration on TRIPS & Public Health has helped to advance TRIPS flexibilities in national laws, judgements, panel reports and FTAs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant challenges to the full use of TRIPS flexibilities that should be addressed by WTO Members.
Compulsory licensing vs. the IP waiver: what is the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic?
By Olga Gurgula
This policy brief examines the currently discussed proposals at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that aim to resolve the problem of the production shortages of COVID-19 vaccines. This includes the two key submissions, i.e. the proposal by South Africa and India on the Intellectual Property (IP) waiver, partially supported by the United States (US), and the European Union (EU) proposal to clarify the use of compulsory licensing. While each of these mechanisms may help to improve the production of COVID-19 vaccines to various degrees, there is intense debate about which of these proposals is the most effective. This policy brief outlines the strengths and weaknesses of each of them with a view to informing the policy decisions by WTO Members on the best way to promptly accelerate the vaccine production that is urgently needed today. It concludes that the proposed IP waiver is a more effective solution for addressing the current emergency.
Frontier Technologies and IP – WIPO 4th Conversation
South Centre Statement, 23 September 2021
The South Centre is an intergovernmental think tank of 54 developing countries working across various policy areas, including health, intellectual property, and the impacts of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The following remarks focus on the necessary attention that should be laid out to the specific status of developing countries.
From the outset, it should be recalled that the technological divide between industrialized countries and most of the global south drastically limits the conditions to accrue benefits from data-intensive economies. This should not be understated in policy discussions such as the present one.
Strong Intellectual Property Protection, Weak Competition Rules – or the Other Way Around to Accelerate Technology Transfer to the Global South? Ten Considerations for a “Prodevelopment” IP-Related Competition Law
By Klaus D. Beiter
Competition law provisions relating to intellectual property (IP) rights should play an enhanced role in facilitating the domestic and international transfer and dissemination of technology. IP-related competition rules in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) create an obligation for Member States to apply competition law in the IP context. TRIPS competition rules should be read in a “prodevelopment” fashion – IP rights need to be read reductively, IP-related competition law expansively. Ten considerations for a “prodevelopment” IP-related competition law are formulated.
Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccine Production via Involuntary Technology Transfer
By Dr. Olga Gurgula
This policy brief explains that the currently discussed proposals at the WTO related to increasing the production of COVID-19 vaccines, including the EU proposal to clarify the use of compulsory licensing and the submission by South Africa and India on the intellectual property (IP) waiver, require complementary mechanisms to rapidly improve the production of COVID-19 vaccines that are urgently needed today. The key problem is that to accelerate the manufac- ture of COVID-19 vaccines, access to knowledge and know-how, that are protected by trade secrets owned by several pharmaceutical companies, is required. It is therefore important that governments implement an additional mechanism of compulsory licensing of trade secrets that would allow an involuntary transfer of COVID-19 vaccine technologies. Such a mechanism would be compliant with the TRIPS Agreement and relevant whether the TRIPS waiver is adopted or not agreed upon. While this mechanism must provide full access to the information necessary to manufacture the vaccines in question, it must also ensure the protection of the transferred trade secrets.
The purpose of this report is to analyse the vaccines industry under the focus of Industrial Economics as an input for the design of the pertinent instruments to promote development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 in sufficient amounts to immunize all countries as soon as possible. We also need to be prepared for future emerging infectious diseases with the potential of global expansion.
The report shows that the vaccines industry is – and has been for a long time – far away from the competitive market paradigm with notorious market failures. As a result, the industry is underperforming with shortages and stockouts, exit of firms from the industry, underinvestment in research and development (R&D) and manufacturing, even an “anaemic development pipeline”, all signs of market failure.
After a brief review of policies implemented to tackle these problems we conclude that after the COVID-19 pandemic there is a need to implement a profound overhauling of the industry and to fundamentally reformulate and extend global public policies to stimulate R&D, manufacturing, distribution and access.
Statement by the South Centre to the Third meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)
The South Centre, the intergovernmental think tank of developing countries based in Geneva, is pleased to participate in the third meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). There is a lot of work to be done until COP-15. The new draft of the GBF improves on the previous version, yet several areas require significant improvements.
South Centre Statement to the formal meeting of SBSTTA 24
Agenda Item 3: Post 2020 GBF
Subsidiary bodies of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are formally meeting to advance the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework. A dedicated funding mechanism for the CBD and mechanism for technology transfer and capacity building should be part of the framework. Read the SC statement.
An Introduction to the UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries
By Spring Gombe
Adoption, adaptation and diffusion of technology offer Least Developed Countries (LDCs) substantial potential to increase economic productivity and development and to narrow the technological gap with developed countries. It is in recognition of the need for sustained and sustainable mechanisms to enable the transfer of technologies between countries that the United Nations (UN) Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries was born.
Technology and inequality: can we decolonise the digital world?
By Padmashree Gehl Sampath
In this article, the author argues that techno-centric explanations of progress and industrialisation are deeply entrenched in a wider social context that encourages us to ignore the historical roots of current inequalities – which, in fact, are not amenable to a technological solution alone. Making the data economy work for all will require a serious reflection on how we want to frame this debate, and how to align ourselves to a common vision of social progress that technology could help to accomplish.
The 73rdWorld Health Assembly and Resolution on COVID-19: Quest of Global Solidarity for Equitable Access to Health Products
By Nirmalya Syam, Mirza Alas and Vitor Ido
The annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) held virtually on 18-19 May 2020 discussed the global response to COVID-19 and adopted Resolution WHA73.1 on “COVID-19 Response”. The Resolution reaffirms the role of WHO as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work and it recognizes that all countries should have timely and affordable access to diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines as well as to essential health technologies and equipment to respond to COVID-19. However, the Resolution does not define concrete actions to address the pandemic. Though the Resolution makes a commitment of ensuring access to medical products, vaccines and equipment for all countries in a timely manner, there are no concrete actions defined. In order to ensure global equitable access, WHO Members should make full use of the flexibilities of the Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and also enhance transparency of costs of research and development (R&D), openness and sharing of data, tools and technologies, and build more capacity through technology transfer.
US Claims under Special Section 301 against China Undermine the Credibility of the WTO
By Nirmalya Syam and Dr. Carlos M. Correa
The US action to place China in the Special 301 ‘Priority Watch List’ is unjustified and in contravention to the WTO rules. The claims made against China are based on standards self-determined by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), not on international standards. This is an example of a systemic problem that requires a concerted response. WTO members should unite to firmly oppose the imposition of unilateral measures that undermine the multilateral trading system and the credibility of WTO as a ruled-based institution.