SouthViews

SouthViews No. 264, 10 May 2024

Understanding the Interconnected Threats to Global Sustainability: A Focus on Deforestation, Traditional Knowledge, and Biopiracy

By Marissa Costa De Castro

This paper examines the interconnected threats of climate change, deforestation, misappropriation of traditional knowledge (TK), and the detrimental phenomenon of biopiracy. It discusses the profound impacts of deforestation on climate change, with an illustrative case study centered on Brazil’s Matopiba region. Additionally, it investigates the intricate relationship between TK, land grabbing, and biopiracy within indigenous and local communities.

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SouthViews No. 263, 1 May 2024

The Protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, Expressions of Folklore and Genetic Resources Within the African Continental Free Trade Area – Alignment with International and Regional Developments  

By Caroline B. Ncube

The adoption of the Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights under the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area presents an opportune moment to consider a continental framework for the protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, Expressions of Folklore and Genetic Resources. This SouthViews considers lessons which can be drawn from national laws, using South Africa as an example, for the relevant Annex to be negotiated under the protocol.

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SouthViews No. 262, 24 April 2024

The Global Digital Compact we need for people and the planet

 by Anita Gurumurthy, Nandini Chami, Shreeja Sen, Merrin Muhammed Ashraf of IT for Change

The Zero Draft of the Global Digital Compact (GDC) to be adopted at the Summit of the Future is crucial to international digital cooperation under a transformative vision of global digital governance. It should identify the means for achieving equitable participation, sustainable development, gender equality, increased local capacity, public ownership of core digital infrastructure and address the concentration of power in the digital economy. This SouthViews considers some of the shortcomings of the draft GDC, particularly in attaining equitable international data governance and democratic participation in a digital multistakeholder scenario to avoid data monopolies and ensure inclusive policy-making processes, while recentering the objectives of Internet governance for inclusive and development-oriented information societies.

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SouthViews No. 261, 23 April 2024

Proposal for a new Article 11bis in the WHO Pandemic Accord: a Pandemic Technology Transfer Mechanism

by Olga Gurgula and Luke McDonagh

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the failure of voluntary mechanisms during global emergencies and exemplifies the need for effective involuntary technology transfer tools. The WHO Pandemic Accord offers an opportunity to provide an effective mechanism to build upon existing TRIPS flexibilities in the specific pandemic context. We propose a new provision (Article 11bis) that outlines a mechanism on cross-border procedure of non-voluntary technology transfer during a pandemic. This procedure could be invoked in a pandemic scenario in which voluntary technology transfer mechanisms have failed to provide sufficient supplies of a needed pandemic product.

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SouthViews No. 260, 20 March 2024

Patent rights and misappropriation of traditional knowledge: the case of the Amazonian Mirantã

By Marcos Vinício Chein Feres

This article aims to understand whether there are any signs of misappropriation enabled by the international patent system in the case of associated traditional knowledge to Mirantã, a plant (genetic resource – GR) found in the Amazon Basin. There is clear correspondence between the traditional uses of Mirantã and patent claims found, which are, or may at least hint at, evidence of the misappropriation of traditional knowledge. More generally, this confirms the perspective of the existence of a coloniality of knowledge as in many jurisdictions, due to the lack of measures to protect traditional knowledge against misappropriation (e.g., via a disclosure requirement in patent applications), these patents are for now deemed valid.

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SouthViews No. 259, 15 de marzo de 2024

¿Adónde va el tratado internacional vinculante negociado en la OMS contra futuras pandemias?

Por Germán Velásquez

La idea de un tratado internacional sobre pandemias es evitar que se repitan los fracasos que se produjeron durante la crisis del COVID-19. Muchas cosas no funcionaron, pero el fracaso más flagrante fue la desigual distribución y acceso a las vacunas, diagnósticos y tratamientos. Se necesita un tratado internacional basado en los principios de equidad, inclusión y transparencia para garantizar un acceso universal y equitativo.

El actual proyecto de texto del “tratado pandémico” está lejos de responder adecuadamente los retos planteados durante la crisis de COVID-19. Los países desarrollados han debilitado el texto inicial. Los países desarrollados han debilitado la versión inicial del borrador, y el texto está ahora lleno de matices innecesarios. La expresión “cuando proceda” y otras formulaciones típicas de las disposiciones voluntarias aparecen ahora repetidamente. Se trata de proteger y garantizar el interés público y la salud de los ciudadanos como un derecho, o de defender los intereses de una industria que pretende enriquecerse sin límites. El tratado contra futuras pandemias será uno de los temas centrales de la próxima Asamblea Mundial de la Salud de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) en mayo de 2024. Si los países del Sur, que representan la mayoría de los miembros de la OMS, se unen con una visión clara y fuerte de la salud pública y los países del Norte actúan con lucidez, siguiendo las pruebas científicas al tiempo que persiguen la seguridad para todos, el tratado contribuirá al bienestar de las generaciones futuras. Si al final un pequeño grupo de países se opone a un tratado con disposiciones significativas, no debemos olvidar que la OMS es una institución democrática donde existe la posibilidad de votar.

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SouthViews No. 259, 15 mars 2024

Où va le traité international contraignant négocié à l’OMS pour lutter contre les futures pandémies ?

Par Germán Velásquez

L’idée d’un traité international sur les pandémies est d’éviter de répéter les échecs qui se sont produits lors de la crise du COVID-19. Beaucoup de choses n’ont pas fonctionné, mais l’échec le plus flagrant a été la distribution inégale des vaccins, des diagnostics et des traitements, ainsi que l’accès à ces derniers. Un traité international fondé sur les principes d’équité, d’inclusion et de transparence est nécessaire pour garantir un accès universel et équitable.

Le projet de texte actuel du “traité sur les pandémies” est loin de répondre de manière adéquate aux défis rencontrés lors de la crise du COVID-19. Les pays développés ont affaibli la version initiale du projet, et le texte est maintenant plein de nuances inutiles. L’expression « le cas échéant » et d’autres formulations typiques des dispositions volontaires apparaissent désormais à plusieurs reprises. Il s’agit soit de protéger et d’assurer l’intérêt public et la santé des citoyens comme un droit, soit de défendre les intérêts d’une industrie qui cherche à s’enrichir sans limites. Le traité contre les futures pandémies sera l’un des sujets centraux de la prochaine Assemblée mondiale de la santé de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) en mai 2024. Si les pays du Sud, qui représentent la majorité des membres de l’OMS, s’unissent autour d’une vision claire et forte de la santé publique et que les pays du Nord agissent avec lucidité, en suivant les preuves scientifiques tout en recherchant la sécurité pour tous, le traité contribuera au bien-être des générations futures. Si, en fin de compte, un petit groupe de pays s’oppose à un traité contenant des dispositions significatives, nous ne devons pas oublier que l’OMS est une institution démocratique où il est possible de voter.

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SouthViews No. 259, 15 March 2024

Where is the Binding International Treaty Negotiated at the WHO Against Future Pandemics Going?

by Germán Velásquez

The idea of an international pandemic treaty is to avoid repeating the failures that occurred during the COVID-19 crisis. Many things did not work, but the most glaring failure was the unequal distribution of, and access to, vaccines, diagnostics and treatments. An international treaty based on the principles of equity, inclusiveness and transparency is needed to ensure universal and equitable access.

The current draft text of the “pandemic treaty” is far from adequately responding to the problems faced during the COVID-19 crisis. Developed countries have weakened the initial version of the draft, and the text is now full of unnecessary nuances. The expression “where appropriate” and other such wordings, typical of voluntary provisions, now appear repeatedly. It is a question of either protecting and ensuring the public interest and the health of citizens as a right, or of defending the interests of an industry that seeks to enrich itself without limits. The treaty against future pandemics will be one of the central topics at the next World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2024. If the countries of the South, accounting for the majority of the WHO membership, unite with a clear and strong public health vision and the countries of the North act lucidly, follow scientific evidence while pursuing safety for all, the treaty will contribute to the well-being of future generations. If in the end a small group of countries oppose a treaty with meaningful provisions, we must not forget that the WHO is a democratic institution where there is the possibility to vote.

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SouthViews No. 258, 11 March 2024

New US Policy on Exercise of March-In Rights to Curb High Drug Prices: Lessons for the Global South

By Nirmalya Syam

In response to soaring prescription drug costs, the United States government recently announced proposed changes to the exercise of march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, allowing federal agencies to license taxpayer-funded inventions to other parties based on factors such as accessibility and affordability. This article explores the implications of the US policy shift on global pharmaceutical pricing and access, particularly for developing countries. Drawing parallels between the US approach and flexibilities under intellectual property laws such as compulsory licensing and government use authorizations that are allowed under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, the article suggests that similar strategies could be employed by developing nations to address public health needs and economic considerations.

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SouthViews No. 257, 28 February 2024

Self-withering: The Biodiversity Convention and its new Global Biodiversity Framework

By Dr S Faizi

The Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), adopted at the end of 2022 marked another step in the process of weakening of the enforcement of the treaty that is finely balanced on the North-South axis. The CBD articles that protect the interests of the South continue to remain silenced, the West winning a virtual amendment of the treaty by default. The adoption of the GBF itself was procedurally flawed and while some of its 23 targets to be achieved by 2030 are meaningful, some are problematic. The target of increasing the global coverage of protected areas to 30 per cent each of the terrestrial and marine areas is likely to exclude the traditional caretakers of biodiversity and lead to further alienation of the historical custodians of biodiversity. The nature-based solutions (NbS) promoted by the GBF are likely to cause even more damage to the natural systems. The CBD provisions that are particularly favourable to the South are excluded from the GBF.

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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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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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