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SEE A LIST OF SOUTH CENTRE COVID-19 RELATED PUBLICATIONS HERE.
Call for Action: Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the Covid-19 Crisis by the South Centre
The South Centre views with concern the attempts by some governments and industry players to monopolize the availability of treatments, diagnostics, medicines, medical supplies and devices needed for their own nationalist agenda or to maximize profit, ahead of societal interest in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The private enforcement of patents and government trade restrictions may pose a dire threat to the containment of this global public health emergency. Governments should act swiftly to put in place legislation and plans to ensure that patents and trade measures do not become barriers for access to those products.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC: ACCESS TO PREVENTION AND TREATMENT IS A MATTER OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
Open letter from Carlos Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre, to the Director-Generals of the World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization.
Compulsory Licenses and Government Use of Patented Medicines: Precedents Relevant to Address COVID-19
To meet public health needs, such as in the current COVID-19 emergency, governments can use compulsory licenses and government use as a tool for procurement and import of patented medicines. These mechanisms are provided for in most laws worldwide. The WTO TRIPS Agreement, as reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, recognises the right of WTO members to grant compulsory licenses and their freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses may be granted. The table provides information of instances of their use.
Trade Measures Adopted by Countries in Response to COVID-19
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many WTO members have adopted several measures affecting trade. Some are trade liberalizing; others are trade restrictive. South Centre has elaborated a worksheet that compiles these measures (updated till 16 April) based on available sources of information. The compilation does not intend to be exhaustive. However, it may help members to have information about the landscape of trade measures that may affect them.
Message from the South Centre at the launch of the “Solidarity Call To Action” by the President of Costa Rica and the Director-General of the WHO
The architecture for access to medicines and vaccines, which is already complex to manage in normal times, requires even more structured actions in times of a pandemic by the scale of the demand and the urgency in meeting it. This call for solidarity to bring together the technologies and treatments related to COVID 19 is part of the necessary solution. It complements other available instruments for States to facilitate access to prevention and treatment for the population, including through the use of the flexibilities of the WTO TRIPS Agreement.
Compilation of Extracts from Selected Country Statements during 73rd World Health Assembly supporting Access to Health Products on COVID-19
The compilation below was done on the basis of published statements on the WHO website (https://apps.who.int/gb/statements/WHA73/) and the speeches delivered orally for those delegations which have not submitted their statements. This is a non-official document for information only.
PROPOSAL BY INDIA AND SOUTH AFRICA TO WAIVE CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE WTO TRIPS AGREEMENT TO SUPPORT THE GLOBAL COVID-19 PANDEMIC RESPONSE (October 2020)
The prolongation of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic threatens developing countries disproportionately, deepening the catastrophic social and economic crisis and reversing the gains made to date to eradicate extreme poverty and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this situation, ensuring timely access to essential commodities by overcoming acute shortages faced by countries due to high demand and disruptions in the supply chain is critical. There is also an urgent need to speed up development of new vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, at scale, and make these widely available.
As reaffirmed by many delegations in the special session of the WHO Executive Board, transfer of technology and know-how is fundamental for scaling up manufacturing of medical products and equipment. In this regard, India and South Africa have made a joint proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily waive certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to support the global Covid-19 pandemic response.
South Centre Statement to the WHA 73 Session (November 2020)
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that, despite the magnitude of the global health challenges it has to face, the WHO is currently unable to fully enforce its directives, norms and standards. It also shows that its funding is neither sustainable nor adequate to respond effectively to current and future global health crises. Overreliance on voluntary targeted funding puts at risk its capacity to operate as the global agency responsible for public health. These are some of the main challenges facing the WHO today.
South Centre’s Submission to the 3rd Intersessional Meeting for Dialogue and Cooperation on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (January 2021)
Strengthening human rights for fighting inequalities and building back better
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global crisis without precedent in modern history. Its effects have not been felt equally among all countries as it has exacerbated the profound economic and social inequalities affecting the most vulnerable. In light of the lessons, we have learned – and are still learning – from the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, the 3rd Intersessional Meeting for Dialogue and Cooperation on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda serves as a vital opportunity to understand the needs and realities of those who are still ‘left behind’.
Scope of Compulsory License and Government Use of Patented Medicines in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic (February 2021)
To meet public health needs, such as in the current COVID-19 emergency, governments can use compulsory licenses and government use as a tool for procurement and import of patented medicines.
These mechanisms are provided for in most laws worldwide. The WTO TRIPS Agreement, as reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, recognises the right of WTO members to grant compulsory licenses and their freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses may be granted (read our Call for Action on Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the Covid-19 Crisis here).
The table below provides information of instances of their use.
Scope of Compulsory License and Government Use of Patented Medicines in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic (March 2021)
To meet public health needs, such as in the current COVID-19 emergency, governments can use compulsory licenses and government use as a tool for procurement and import of patented medicines.
These mechanisms are provided for in most laws worldwide. The WTO TRIPS Agreement, as reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, recognises the right of WTO members to grant compulsory licenses and their freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses may be granted (read our Call for Action on Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the Covid-19 Crisis here).
The table below provides information of instances of their use.
Strengthening United Nations Action in the Field of Human Rights through the Promotion of International Cooperation (South Centre Submission, March 2021)
COVID-19 could be an opportunity for effective international cooperation for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, taking Human Rights as its fundamental pillar, the South Centre notes in its submission for the United Nations Secretary-General’s report.
This contribution was sent to the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) responding to its invitation, with the objective of providing inputs to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s report on strengthening of UN action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation based on the principles of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity, to be presented to the General Assembly at its seventy-sixth session.
Policy Paper on National Strategies for South-South and Triangular Cooperation (South Centre and IsDB joint publication, April 2021)
For developing countries to realize the full potential of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTrC) for achieving their national sustainable development objectives, it is important to formulate national SSTrC strategies as part of their national SSTrC ecosystems. Such national strategies would serve as guidance for a country’s SSTrC activities, initiatives and institutional framework, both as provider and beneficiary of SSTrC. This policy brief highlights the importance of developing national SSTrC strategies for achieving national development objectives and lays out the main elements that can be taken into consideration by developing countries for designing their national SSTrC strategies. While many developing countries do not have an explicit SSTrC strategy in place yet, the state of play shows that its elements can be found in various policies, institutional guidance and national development strategies. The absence of a holistic approach and a nationally acknowledged strategy carries the risk of fragmentation and incoherence in undertaking SSTrC activities. The potential of national SSTrC strategies for enabling effective responses to crises (such as COVID-19) is also explored.
This paper was developed jointly by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the South Centre based on the concept of the Islamic Development Bank on National Ecosystems for South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
South Centre General Statement to the Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly (May 2021)
Various interrelated processes, including a possible new pandemic treaty, are at play in addressing the current and future pandemics. Read the South Centre statement to the 74th World Health Assembly.
SOUTH CENTRE STATEMENT FOR NAM HEALTH MINISTERS MEETING AT THE 74TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY (May 2021)
A new pandemic treaty, if negotiated, should contribute to establish a stronger international health framework, suitable to countries with different levels of development, and equip WHO with the appropriate enforcement mechanisms and tools. Read the South Centre statement.
Submission to the Special Session of the General Assembly on Challenges and Measures to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Strengthen International Cooperation (June 2021)
South Centre, 28 May 2021
The South Centre submission to UNGASS2021 highlights the need for strong inter-institutional and cross-sectorial coordination and more effective and open government tools. The UNGASS2021 should support the implementation of the FACTI Panel recommendations as means to enhance States’ effort to combat corruption.
Statement by the South Centre on the extension of the transition period for LDCs under the TRIPS Agreement (June 2021)
The TRIPS Council decision to extend the TRIPS transition period for LDCs until 1 June 2034 confirms their right to an extension but it regrettably does not meet the scope and duration that the LDCs requested. Read our statement …
Written Contribution to the United Nations Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Draft General Comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (July 2021)
As mentioned by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the purpose of the general comment is to clarify the specific obligations of States parties relating to land and the governance of tenure of land under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In line with such an objective, the South Centre is keen to submit the following written contribution to the draft general comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (draft general comment). It will consider some of the concerns that developing countries have raised in relation to their development realities and needs, mainly arising from the challenges they face due to the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis and the need for a fair and inclusive recovery.
Report: Virtual Consultation in support of the UN Working Group’s 2021 Report to the UN General Assembly on Human Rights-Compatible International Investment Agreements (August 2021)
South Centre, 23 June 2021
Foreign direct investment (FDI) should support States’ efforts to “bring the SDGs and goals of the Paris Agreement to life for all people, everywhere.” However, achievement of these objectives is slowed down in the current situation where investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are included in international investment agreements (IIAs). These mechanisms have increased the exposure of States to claims from foreign investors against regulatory measures taken to protect and guarantee a clean and safe environment, public health, human rights, social inclusion, and poverty reduction.
In the current scenario marked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDI can be a valuable source of financing a better and fairer recovery, including investment needed to achieve the full realisation of all human rights. But to achieve this potential, there is a need to reshape the international investment regime, including through the reform of its substantive rules and standards, as well as of the ISDS mechanisms embedded in existing IIAs.
The South Centre and the United Nations Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises convened a virtual consultation to identify and assess the different challenges developing countries face while negotiating or reforming IIAs in line with their international human rights obligations. The virtual consultation aimed at highlighting and discussing some of the most common concerns and challenges those developing countries face in the promotion of responsible investment practices, including an exploratory discussion about balancing the rights and obligations of investors in IIAs and safeguarding the sovereign right of States to regulate in the public interest for building back better and fairer in face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also discussed possible reforms of the ISDS mechanism.
Contribution of the South Centre to the Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution A/75/L.97 dated 9 June 2021 on the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” (2021)
This input by the South Centre is prepared in response to the UN Secretary-General’s request as a contribution to the report of the Secretary-General as per resolution A/75/L.97, with respect to the imposition of unilateral economic, financial and trade measures against Cuba, in violation of basic principles of the UN Charter.
Statement by the South Centre to the 2021 Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO (October 2021)
The South Centre is the intergovernmental think tank of developing countries based in Geneva. We are of the view that a central goal of WIPO as part of the UN system is to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. A balanced and flexible international intellectual property system, with adequate safeguards, can be supportive of the SDGs, as set by SDG 3b. Global supply and access to Covid-19 countermeasures can be accelerated with increased cooperation and removal of IP barriers. WIPO should support its Members to reach agreement on a temporary waiver of the TRIPS Agreement.
STATEMENT BY DR. CARLOS CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, TO THE MINISTERS AND GOVERNORS MEETING OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP OF TWENTY-FOUR (G24) (October 2021)
The world economy is showing signs of recovery, yet very uneven, and is facing a multitude of challenges including rising inequality within and among countries, vaccine nationalism in the face of raging COVID-19 variants, escalated debt burden for many developing countries, ravages of climate change and weakening multilateralism.
Now, we are at a pivotal moment to mend and fix the global systemic problems so that we can recover better, greener, more inclusively, and more resiliently. It is time to address root causes of the fragility, instability, divergence and asymmetries of the global economy.
Vaccins, Médicaments et Brevets. La covid-19 et l’impératif d’une organisation internationale (Book, 2021)
Par Germán Velásquez
À partir de début 2020, le monde a dû faire face à un considérable défi sanitaire, économique et social avec l’épidémie de la COVID-19. La crise s’est poursuivie et aggravée dans la plupart des pays du monde. Beaucoup ont voulu explorer des réponses sans prendre réellement en compte les avis des principaux organismes internationaux dans le domaine de la santé, au premier rang desquels l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS). L’OMS fait l’objet de critiques. Il est néanmoins fondamental qu’une agence multilatérale comme elle puisse exercer une véritable autorité et jouer un rôle de chef de le indépendant et en défense de l’ensemble des pays de la planète. Alors, comment faire pour qu’elle puisse jouer ce rôle ? Ce livre contribue à apporter des réponses à cette question, en s’appuyant sur les réflexions développées par le Centre Sud, un organisme intergouvernemental qui défend les perspectives des pays du Sud. Il aborde notamment l’avancement des réflexions et débats concernant l’accès aux médicaments et vaccins pour répondre à cette pandémie ou à d’éventuelles crises ultérieures.
Vacunas, medicamentos y patentes. COVID-19 y la necesidad de una organización internacional (Book, 2021)
Por Germán Velásquez
Velásquez, Germán: Vacunas, medicamentos y patentes. COVID-19 y la necesidad de una organización internacional. Vacunas covid-19: entre la ética, la salud y la economía. Desarrollo de la vacuna COVID-19; la inmunidad y el contagio; el nacionalismo de las vacunas; el mecanismo COVAX; licencias obligatorias; Acceso a medicamentos y vacunas: un nuevo actor. Medicamentos y propiedad intelectual: diez años de la estrategia mundial de la oms. Repensando la fabricación mundial y local de productos médicos tras el covid-19. Repensando la i+d para productos farmacéuticos después del covid-19. Propiedad intelectual y acceso a medicamentos y vacunas. Las reformas de la organización mundial de la salud en la época de covid-19. 2021. 244 pp. ISBN 978-9915-650-31-9.
Uso Público No Comercial y Licencias Obligatorias en América Latina: Estado de Situación (Book, 2021)
Por Guillermo Vidaurreta
Este libro examina cómo han sido regulados en el derecho latinoamericano el uso público no comercial y las licencias obligatorias de patentes de invención, una de las importantes flexibilidades en el marco del acuerdo sobre propiedad intelectual de la Organización Mundial de Comercio. Igualmente, indaga y compendia las experiencias registradas en cuanto al uso efectivo de esos instrumentos, el que no se agota en el ámbito de la salud pública, si bien han sido especialmente utilizados tanto por países desarrollados como en desarrollo para facilitar el acceso a medicamentos, incluso en el contexto de la pandemia del COVID-19.
Guide for the Granting of Compulsory Licenses and Government Use of Pharmaceutical Patents (Research Paper 107, April 2020)
By Dr. Carlos M. Correa
Like other rights, patent rights are not absolute. There are situations in which their exercise can be limited to protect public interests. Such situations may arise, for instance, when access to needed pharmaceutical products must be ensured. Compulsory licenses and government use for non-commercial purposes are tools, provided for under most laws worldwide, that can specifically be used to address public health needs. This document is intended to provide legal guidance for the effective use of such tools, consistently with the international law.
Guía para la concesión de licencias obligatorias y uso gubernamental de patentes farmacéuticas (Documento de investigación 107, Diciembre 2020)
Por Carlos M. Correa
Al igual que otros derechos, los derechos de patente no son absolutos. Hay situaciones en las que su ejercicio puede limitarse para proteger los intereses públicos. Esas situaciones pueden surgir, por ejemplo, cuando debe garantizarse el acceso a los productos farmacéuticos necesarios. Las licencias obligatorias y el uso gubernamental con fines no comerciales son instrumentos, previstos en la mayoría de las leyes de todo el mundo, que pueden utilizarse específicamente para atender las necesidades de salud pública. El presente documento tiene por objeto proporcionar orientación jurídica para el uso eficaz de esos instrumentos, de conformidad con el derecho internacional.
Equitable Access to COVID-19 Related Health Technologies: A Global Priority (Research Paper 114, June 2020)
By Dr. Zeleke Temesgen Boru
Since COVID-19 was first identified, infections from the virus and the death toll have spiked abysmally. The pandemic has also paralyzed the economies (particularly, global trade, tourism and transport) of many countries. The dire social and psychological ramifications associated with the pandemic are also immense. The threat posed by COVID-19 on global health and the economic downturn resulting thereof necessitates the development of health technologies (such as medicines and vaccines). A global effort to invent new health technologies or the likely application of existing technologies is also underway since the outbreak of the pandemic. Even though the race to develop these technologies can be hailed as a pivotal undertaking, the development of health technologies alone may not expedite equitable access to the outcome of such development. Particularly, the lack of access to health technologies may befall if the conventional model of health technology pricing, which is derived from monopoly rights created by IP protection, is set. However, legal as well as policy tools can be used to overcome such hurdles and ensure global access to health technologies. In this sense, this paper discusses plausible legal and policy options that can help to accelerate access to health technologies targeting COVID-19.
The TRIPS Agreement Article 73 Security Exceptions and the COVID-19 Pandemic (Research Paper 116, August 2020)
By Frederick Abbott
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused Governments to contemplate measures to override patents and other intellectual property rights (IPRs) in order to facilitate production and distribution of vaccines, treatments, diagnostics and medical devices. This paper discusses whether the COVID-19 pandemic may be considered an “emergency in international relations” and how WTO Member States may invoke Article 73 (“Security Exceptions”) of the TRIPS Agreement as the legal basis for overriding IPRs otherwise required to be made available or enforced. It concludes that the pandemic constitutes an emergency in international relations within the meaning of Article 73(b)(iii) and that this provision allows Governments to take actions necessary to protect their essential security interests.
Re-thinking Global and Local Manufacturing of Medical Products After COVID-19 (Research Paper 118, September 2020)
By Dr. Germán Velásquez
The unprecedented global health crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic since the first quarter of 2020 has reopened the now-urgent discussion about the role of local pharmaceutical production in addressing the health needs in developing countries. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the interdependencies in the global production of pharmaceuticals—no country is self-sufficient. Many industrialized countries are making the decision to repatriate or initiate the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and medicines. Governments are beginning to talk about ‘pharmaceutical sovereignty’ or ‘health security’. If this becomes a reality and the production of pharmaceuticals is led by nationalistic policies, developing countries that still lack manufacturing capacity will have to start or expand the local production of pharmaceuticals, whether at the national or regional level. The war to get access to the future vaccine for COVID-19 does not look easy with these new developments.
Reconsidérations sur la fabrication mondiale et locale de produits médicaux après le COVID-19 (Document de Recherche 118, Janvier 2021)
Par Germán Velásquez
La crise sanitaire mondiale sans précédent provoquée par la pandémie de coronavirus (COVID-19), au cours du premier semestre 2020, ramène avec une urgence particulière la discussion sur la production pharmaceutique locale. La crise du COVID-19 a mis en évidence l’interdépendance de la production mondiale de médicaments—aucun pays n’étant autosuffisant. De nombreux pays industrialisés prennent la décision de rapatrier ou de développer la production d’ingrédients pharmaceutiques actifs (IPA). De nombreux gouvernements commencent à parler de souveraineté pharmaceutique et/ou de sécurité sanitaire. Si cela devient une réalité, les pays en développement devront développer et/ou renforcer la production locale de médicaments et de vaccins. La guerre pour obtenir le futur vaccin pour COVID-19 ne semble pas facile avec ces nouveaux développements.
Repensando la fabricación mundial y local de productos médicos tras el COVID-19 (Documento de investigación 118, Junio 2021)
Por Germán Velásquez
La crisis sanitaria mundial sin precedentes provocada por la pandemia del coronavirus –COVID-19, durante el primer semestre de 2020, hace que se vuelva a plantear con especial urgencia el debate sobre la producción farmacéutica local. La crisis de COVID-19 puso de manifiesto la interdependencia en la producción mundial de medicamentos, ningún país es autosuficiente. Muchos países industrializados están tomando la decisión de repatriar o desarrollar la producción de Ingredientes Farmacéuticos Activos (API). Muchos gobiernos están empezando a hablar de soberanía farmacéutica y/o seguridad sanitaria. Si esto se hace realidad, los países en desarrollo tendrán que desarrollar y/o fortalecer la producción local de medicamentos y vacunas. La guerra para obtener la futura vacuna para COVID-19 no parece fácil con estos nuevos desarrollos.
Patent Analysis for Medicines and Biotherapeutics in Trials to Treat COVID-19 (Research Paper 120, October 2020)
By Srividya Ravi
This report provides an analysis of patents covering medicines in trials to treat 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 medicines considered for the patent analysis in this report are remdesivir, ruxolitinib and favipiravir, and the biotherapeutics tocilizumab, siltuximab and sarilumab.
The World Health Organization Reforms in the Time of COVID-19 (Research Paper 121, November 2020)
By Germán Velásquez
During its 70-year history, the World Health Organization (WHO) has undergone various reforms led by several Directors-General, including Halfdan Mahler at the Almaty Conference on primary health care in 1978, Gro Harlem Brundtland with her “reach out to the private sector” in 1998, and Margaret Chan with her unfinished debate on the role of “non-state actors” in 2012. The organization’s fragility is once again being highlighted, as the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that WHO does not have the legal instruments and mechanisms necessary to enforce its standards and guidelines, and that its funding is not sustainable and adequate to respond to the challenge. This paper seeks to identify the main problems faced by WHO and the necessary measures that a reform of the organization would have to take.
Las reformas de la Organización Mundial de la Salud en la época de COVID-19 (Documento de investigación 121, Noviembre 2020)
Por Germán Velásquez
A lo largo de sus 70 años de historia la OMS ha pasado por varias reformas lideradas por varios directores generales, como Halfdan Mahler en la Conferencia de Alma ata sobre la atención primaria de salud, 1978, Gro Harlem Brundtland con su « reach out to the private sector » 1998, Margaret Chan con su inconcluso debate sobre el rol de « los autores no estatales » 2012 . Una vez mas, y de forma contundente la crisis sanitaria del 2020 pone en evidencia la fragilidad de la Organización y nos revela que la OMS no tiene los instrumentos y mecanismos legales necesarios para aplicar sus normas y orientaciones y que su manera de financiamiento no es sostenible y adecuada para responder al desafío de la COVID-19. Este documento trata de identificar cuales son los problemas principales de que sufre la OMS y cuales serian las medidas necesarias que una reforma de la Organización tendría que abordar.
Les réformes de l’Organisation mondiale de la Santé a l’époque de COVID-19 (Document de Recherche 121, Janvier 2021)
Par Germán Velásquez
Tout au long de ses 70 ans d’histoire, l’OMS a connu plusieurs réformes dirigées par plusieurs Directeurs généraux, tels que Halfdan Mahler à la Conférence d’Almaty sur les soins de santé primaires, en 1978, Gro Harlem Brundtland avec son appel à « tendre la main au secteur privé », en 1998, et Margaret Chan avec son débat inachevé sur le rôle des «acteurs non étatiques », en 2012. Une fois de plus, la crise sanitaire de 2020 a mis en évidence la fragilité de l’organisation et a révélé que l’OMS ne dispose pas des instruments et mécanismes juridiques nécessaires pour mettre en œuvre ses normes et lignes directrices, et que son financement n’est pas durable et adéquat pour répondre au défi de la COVID-19. Ce document cherche à identifier les principaux problèmes rencontrés par l’OMS et les mesures nécessaires qu’une réforme de l’Organisation devrait prendre.
Practical Implications of ‘Vaccine Nationalism’: A Short-Sighted and Risky Approach in Response to COVID-19 (Research Paper 124, November 2020)
By Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD
To end the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure a return of normalcy, an effective and safe vaccine is the best hope. The vaccine nationalism approach, adopted by some countries to gain preferential access to emerging COVID-19 vaccines, poses a threat to the fair and equitable distribution of the potential vaccines across the globe. This research paper critically evaluates the approach of vaccine nationalism and argues that this self-centred political behaviour of leaving others behind is short-sighted, potentially risky, morally indefensible, and practically inefficient in containing the pandemic. This paper highlights why it is important for national governments to support the collaborative and coordinated effort of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility for the timely development and efficient delivery of potential COVID-19 vaccines. It concludes that an effective response to the current health and economic crisis should be guided by values of international solidarity, multilateralism, equality, and global collaboration. It proposes the adoption of an enforceable global framework to address the concerns arising from the combination of vaccine nationalism and intellectual property exclusivities.
The TRIPS waiver proposal: an urgent measure to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccines (Research Paper 129, March 2021)
by Henrique Zeferino de Menezes
Despite multilateral commitments and political statements of solidarity and cooperation to guarantee the availability and access to COVID-19 vaccines (and other relevant technologies for control and treatment), the scenario after the beginning of vaccination is marked by the deepening of vaccine nationalism, the concentration of inputs and vaccines production, and the uneven distribution of options of vaccine doses already approved for use. This pattern of production restrictions and unequal access will lead to an increase in international inequalities, leaving a large part of the world to have access to vaccines not until 2024. While advanced purchase agreements (APAs) among pharmaceutical companies and some developed countries are multiplying, the proposed mechanisms for voluntary licensing of technologies and the COVAX Facility do not achieve their goal of democratizing access to vaccines. In this sense, the current TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver proposal seems to be the political and institutional response with the greatest potential to guarantee the scaling of the production of pharmaceutical inputs, allowing the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to ensure timely, sufficient, and affordable access to all technologies developed to fight COVID-19.
Interpreting the Flexibilities Under the TRIPS Agreement (Research Paper 132, June 2021)
By Carlos M. Correa
While the TRIPS Agreement provides for minimum standards of protection of intellectual property, it leaves a certain degree of policy space for WTO members, whether developed or developing countries, to implement the Agreement’s provisions in different manners, to legislate in areas not subject to the minimum standards under the Agreement, and to develop legal interpretations of such provisions to determine the scope and content of the applicable obligations. This paper focuses on some aspects of how panels and the Appellate Body of the WTO have interpreted said provisions. The paper also draws general conclusions for the implementation of TRIPS flexibilities, which are of crucial importance for the design of a pro-competitive intellectual property system and, in particular, for achieving public health objectives, as specifically recognized by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.
Malaria and Dengue: Understanding two infectious diseases affecting developing countries and their link to climate change (Research Paper 133, August 2021)
By Mirza Alas
Developing countries will face more complex challenges as infectious disease patterns transform due to climate change and climate variability. These challenges include how to reduce the incidence of malaria (including the significant challenge of resistant malaria), dengue, and other vector-borne and water-borne diseases that are likely to experience alterations in geographical range and lengthening of the transmission seasons due to changing temperatures and rain patterns. Climate extremes, e.g., heat and floods, are implicating the spread of climate-sensitive infectious diseases such as dengue and malaria transmitted by vectors like mosquitoes. In the context of growing financial pressure on governments due to COVID-19, the ensuing fiscal challenges may severely limit the capacity to effectively respond to health challenges in countries already affected by malaria and dengue. Other countries that have made gains in controlling vector-borne infections could also be vulnerable to rising disease burden. This research paper aims to analyze how changes in malaria and dengue pose a challenge for developing countries as they prepare mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate health. The paper will also provide some general recommendations on the importance of integration of health in national climate change strategies.
Restructuring the Global Vaccine Industry (Research Paper 134, September 2021)
By Felix Lobo
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.
Implementation of a TRIPS Waiver for Health Technologies and Products for COVID-19: Preventing Claims Under Free Trade and Investment Agreements (Research Paper 135, September 2021)
by Carlos M. Correa, Nirmalya Syam and Daniel Uribe
While increasing support from WTO members for a proposed waiver from certain obligations under the TRIPS Agreement with regard to health products required for responding to COVID-19 has made a decision on the TRIPS waiver imminent, the waiver will have to be implemented domestically by WTO members through appropriate legislative, administrative or judicial measures, including through executive orders that have been utilized to implement emergency measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the scope of the TRIPS waiver, as well as the terms of applicable free trade agreements (FTAs) and international investment agreements (IIAs) will also impact the policy space available to countries to implement the waiver. Ensuring a broad scope of the waiver, as well as complementary measures to safeguard the implementation of the waiver from potential challenges under FTAs or IIAs will be critical. This research paper discusses some options that could be explored to enable the implementation of the TRIPS waiver by overcoming possible impediments that could arise under such agreements.
Canada’s Political Choices Restrain Vaccine Equity: The Bolivia-Biolyse Case (Research Paper 136, September 2021)
By Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD
The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 4.6 million lives and caused significant economic harm. The Coronavirus is still circulating to cause further damage. In this context, this research paper argues that Canada’s political choices have restrained the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Part I evaluates Canada’s nationalistic approach of procuring COVID-19 vaccines more than its needs through secretly concluded pre-purchase agreements with brand-name pharmaceutical corporations as advised by a secretly born task force having clear ties with the vaccine industry. Part II examines Canada’s wavering and non-committal position on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Waiver proposal. Canada’s confusing position of ‘not blocking’ the TRIPS Waiver while not supporting it either lacks legal clarity. Part III analyses the Bolivia-Biolyse case which highlights clear contradictions between statements and actions of the Canadian government. Since March 2021, Biolyse Pharma has been hamstrung by the first step in Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR), where a preliminary requirement is that the COVID-19 vaccine must be added to Schedule 1 of the Canadian federal Patent Act before applying for an export-oriented compulsory licence. The Bolivia-Biolyse case is important as a test case for the CAMR system. Workability of this export-oriented compulsory licensing regime is critical for low- and middle-income countries in the Global South lacking the domestic capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. The Bolivia-Biolyse case is also important as Canada has argued at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the TRIPS Waiver is not required because the existing mechanisms are working as intended.
The Ocean Economy: trends, impacts and opportunities for a post COVID-19 Blue Recovery in developing countries (Research Paper 137, September 2021)
by David Vivas Eugui, Diana Barrowclough and Claudia Contreras
This paper discusses preliminary and still quite unknown trends on trade, finance, and technology of the ocean economy, outlines key impacts and measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and raises awareness about the potential of the ocean economy to contribute to a sustainable and resilient recovery. Based on these findings, the paper argues that sustainability and resilience considerations should be more highly prioritized in ocean-based value chains in a post COVID-19 recovery. To support this, the paper highlights the importance of securing sufficient and reliable long-term investment and the creation of capacities to develop new and adapt existing service innovations. It calls for a global trade, investment and innovation Blue Deal as sister to the Green New Deal already gaining support around the world, particularly for developing countries.
The COVID-19 Pandemic: R&D and Intellectual Property Management for Access to Diagnostics, Medicines and Vaccines (Policy Brief 73, April 2020)
By Viviana Muñoz Tellez
The ongoing rapid spread of COVID-19 is challenging the capacity of governments and of the World Health Organization (WHO) to timely put in place a global coordinated response to the pandemic. Developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in particular in Africa are especially vulnerable to the unfolding effects of the public health crisis. A priority area for global collaboration is to advance research and development (R&D) for vaccines and medicines that are made available, affordable and accessible worldwide.
There is currently no vaccine and no proven safe and effective direct therapy for COVID-19. There is also the need to accelerate testing capacity and tools in developing countries and LDCs with increased access to low-cost diagnostics. The approach to the management of intellectual property rights by research institutions, pharmaceutical and biotech companies and R&D funders will decisively affect availability and access, as well as the transfer of technology and know-how. Governments must ensure that they have legislative and procedural frameworks in place to enable them to over-come any patent, data exclusivity and trade secret barriers to procure and produce COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines, medicines and other therapeutics.
La pandémie de COVID-19 : R&D et gestion de la propriété intellectuelle pour l’accès aux tests diagnostiques, aux médicaments et aux vaccins (Rapport sur les politiques 73, Mai 2020)
Par Viviana Muñoz Tellez
La propagation rapide actuelle du COVID-19 met à l’épreuve la capacité des gouvernements et celle de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) à apporter une réponse mondiale coordonnée à la pandémie. Les pays en développement et les pays les moins avancés (PMA), en particulier en Afrique, sont particulièrement vulnérables aux effets de la crise de santé publique. Un domaine prioritaire de collaboration mondiale consiste à faire progresser la recherche et le développement (R&D) de vaccins et de médicaments qui soient disponibles, abordables et accessibles dans le monde entier. Il n’existe actuellement aucun vaccin et aucune thérapie directe pour COVID-19 dont l’innocuité et l’efficacité ont été prouvées. Il est également nécessaire d’accélérer les capacités et les outils d’essai dans les pays en développement et les PMA en leur donnant un accès accru à des diagnostics peu coûteux. L’approche de la gestion des droits de propriété intellectuelle par les institutions de recherche, les entreprises pharmaceutiques et biotechnologiques et les organismes de financement de la R&D aura une incidence décisive sur la disponibilité et l’accès, ainsi que sur le transfert de technologie et de savoir-faire. Les gouvernements doivent s’assurer qu’ils disposent de cadres législatifs et procéduraux leur permettant de surmonter les obstacles liés aux brevets, à l’exclusivité des données et aux secrets commerciaux afin de se procurer et de produire des diagnostics, des vaccins, des médicaments et d’autres produits thérapeutiques pour le COVID-19.
La pandemia de COVID-19: el fomento de la I+D y la gestión de la propiedad intelectual para acceder a diagnósticos, medicamentos y vacunas (Informe Sobre Políticas 73, Mayo 2020)
Por Viviana Muñoz Tellez
La rápida difusión actual de COVID-19 está poniendo a prueba la capacidad de los gobiernos y de la Organización Mun-dial de la Salud (OMS) para poner en marcha una respuesta mundial coordinada a la pandemia. Los países en desarrollo y los países menos adelantados (PMA), en particular los de África, son particularmente vulnerables a los efectos de la crisis de salud pública. Una esfera prioritaria para la colaboración mundial es el fomento de la investigación y el desar-rollo de vacunas y medicamentos que estén disponibles, sean asequibles y accesibles en todo el mundo. En la actualidad no existe una vacuna ni una terapia directa segura y eficaz probada para COVID-19. También es necesario acelerar la capacidad y los instrumentos de ensayo en los países en desarrollo y los países menos adelantados con un mayor acceso a diagnósticos de bajo costo. El enfoque de la gestión de los derechos de propiedad intelectual por parte de las instituci-ones de investigación, las empresas farmacéuticas y biotecnológicas y las entidades de financiación de la investigación y el desarrollo afectará de manera decisiva a la disponibilidad y el acceso, así como a la transferencia de tecnología y conocimientos técnicos. Los gobiernos deben asegurarse de que disponen de marcos legislativos y de procedimiento que les permitan superar cualquier barrera de patentes, de exclusividad de datos y de secretos comerciales para adquirir y producir diagnósticos, vacunas, medicamentos y otros productos terapéuticos de COVID-19.
Rethinking R&D for Pharmaceutical Products After the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 Shock (Policy Brief 75, April 2020)
By Dr. Germán Velásquez
The unprecedented global health crisis caused by the coronavirus –COVID-19– pandemic, during the first quarter of 2020, brings back with particular urgency the discussion about the research and development (R&D) model for pharmaceuticals and other health technologies. The COVID-19 crisis shows that there is an urgent need to re-design the global public health governance for health R&D. The adoption of a binding instrument –as allowed by Article 19 of the WHO Constitution– on this matter was proposed many years ago. This brief argues that it is time to revive and materialize this initiative.
Repensando la I+D para productos farmacéuticos después del choque de la Coronavirus COVID-19 (Informe sobre políticas 75, Mayo 2020)
Por Germán Velásquez
La crisis sanitaria mundial sin precedentes provocada por la pandemia de coronavirus –COVID-19–, durante el primer trimestre de 2020, hace que vuelva a ser especialmente urgente el debate sobre el modelo de investigación y desarrollo (I+D) de productos farmacéuticos y otras tecnologías sanitarias. La crisis de COVID-19 muestra que existe una necesidad urgente de rediseñar la gobernanza mundial de la salud pública para la I+D en materia de salud. La adopción de un instrumento vinculante –como permite el artículo 19 de la Constitución de la OMS– en esta materia fue propuesta hace muchos años. Este documento sostiene que es hora de revivir y materializar esta iniciativa.
Repenser la R&D pour les produits pharmaceutiques après le choc du nouveau coronavirus COVID-19 (Rapport sur les politiques 75, Janvier 2021)
Par Dr. Germán Velásquez
La crise sanitaire mondiale sans précédent provoquée par la pandémie de coronavirus –COVID-19–, au cours du premier trimestre 2020, ramène avec une urgence particulière la discussion sur le modèle de recherche et développement (R&D) pour les produits pharmaceutiques et autres technologies de la santé. La crise COVID-19 montre qu’il est urgent de repenser la gouvernance mondiale de la santé publique pour la R&D en matière de santé. L’adoption d’un instrument contraignant – comme le permet l’article 19 de la Constitution de l’OMS – sur cette question a été proposée il y a de nombreuses années. Ce document soutient qu’il est temps de relancer et de concrétiser cette initiative.
COVID-19 and WTO: Debunking Developed Countries’ Narratives on Trade Measures (Policy Brief 77, May 2020)
By Aileen Kwa, Fernando Rosales and Peter Lunenborg
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, developing countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are faced with demands to i) permanently liberalize their markets in health products, and also in agriculture; ii) ban export restrictions in agriculture; and iii) conclude new digital trade rules including liberalizing online payment systems, and agreeing to free data flows. There seems to be a confusion between short-term and long-term responses. For the short-term, governments must take measures needed to address the crisis, including liberalizing needed health products. However, permanently bringing tariffs to zero for the health and agricultural sectors will not support developing countries to build domestic industries. Export restrictions in agriculture cannot be given up. They can be a very important tool for stabilizing domestic prices and for food security. New digital trade rules at the WTO would foreclose the possibility for countries to impose data sovereignty regulations, including data localization requirements that can support their infant digital platforms and industries.
The 73rd World Health Assembly and Resolution on COVID-19: Quest of Global Solidarity for Equitable Access to Health Products (Policy Brief 78, May 2020)
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.
Intellectual Property, Innovation and Access to Health Products for COVID-19: A Review of Measures Taken by Different Countries (Policy Brief 80, June 2020)
By Nirmalya Syam
The rising incidence of COVID-19 will require all countries, particularly developing and least developed countries, to be able to procure and manufacture the products required for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Intellectual property (IP) rights over such products can constrain the ability of countries to rapidly procure and produce and supply the products required at a mass scale. This Policy Brief describes the measures and actions taken by different countries to address potential IP barriers to access to the products required for COVID-19. A number of countries, both developed and developing, have adopted measures to enable governments to take action to overcome IP barriers in case they constrain access to the products required for COVID-19. In addition to these measures, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) also allows considerable flexibility to adopt a number of other possible measures which can be considered by developing countries where necessary.
The UN General Assembly Resolutions on COVID-19: Solemn Assurances for Access to Health Technologies without an Action Plan (Policy Brief 81, July 2020)
By Nirmalya Syam
The United Nations (UN) has the mandate under the Charter of the United Nations to promote solutions to international health problems, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic. While the UN secretariat, led by the Secretary-General, has undertaken a number of initiatives in response to COVID-19, member State initiatives in the UN has so far been limited to two resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly. Member States are currently negotiating an omnibus resolution of the General Assembly on COVID-19. This policy brief analyzes the extent to which the General Assembly addresses the issue of timely, equitable and affordable access to health technologies, particularly for developing countries who have greater vulnerability to COVID-19. The adopted resolutions make very broad pledges for global solidarity but lack specific commitments to guide actions by member States. The omnibus resolution currently under negotiation should provide specific guidance to member States on actions to be taken based on the principles of solidarity and multilateral cooperation in diverse aspects impacted by COVID-19.
Examining antimicrobial resistance in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic (Policy Brief 82, July 2020)
By Mirfin Mpundu, Caline Mattar and Mirza Alas
The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to strengthen the capacity of health systems not only to be better prepared for the next pandemic but also to address ongoing crises such as antimicrobial resistance. The unfolding crisis due to antimicrobial resistance is, unfortunately, similar to the current health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit at a slower pace. As countries address the pandemic, there is a need to identify interlinkages between the pandemic and antimicrobial resistance and to continue strengthening the actions needed to slow down the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.
Need for Extension of the LDC Transition Period Under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement Until Graduation and Beyond (Policy Brief 88, March 2021)
By Nirmalya Syam
Least developed country (LDC) Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have submitted a duly motivated request for the extension of the transition period under Article 66.1 of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which exempts LDCs from implementing the obligations for protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights under the Agreement, in view of their vulnerabilities, special needs, economic, administrative and financial constraints, and the need for a sound and viable technological base. This request, submitted prior to the expiry of the current transition period on 1 July 2021, seeks a further extension for as long as those Members remain LDCs, and also for an additional period of 12 years after their graduation. This request is legitimate in view of the varied challenges that LDCs face, which have been aggravated through the reversal of development gains due to the public health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These vulnerabilities will also continue to afflict the LDCs even after graduation, as recognized in several reports by different United Nations (UN) agencies as well as resolutions of the UN General Assembly. Therefore, WTO Members must display political will and translate global solidarity pledges into action and unconditionally support the request for extension of the transition period for LDCs under the TRIPS Agreement.
Could COVID-19 trigger ‘localizing’ of international investment arbitration? (Investment Policy Brief 21, April 2021)
In light of the challenges and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many developing countries have been unable to effectively participate in international investment arbitration proceedings, traditionally held in locations like Washington D.C. and The Hague. To ease the heavy burdens currently being placed on States and ensuring investor confidence, this Policy Brief argues for the ‘localization’ of investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) proceedings in host States and regions where the investment is actually located. It highlights the various advantages that localizing ISDS can bring, and the different regional initiatives already working towards this purpose. The brief also considers relevant legal and policy aspects, and seeks to provide concrete suggestions for the localization of ISDS as a small step towards the holistic reform of international investment arbitration.
Expanding the production of COVID-19 vaccines to reach developing countries
Lift the barriers to fight the pandemic in the Global South (Policy Brief 92, April 2021)
By Carlos M. Correa
The unfolding of COVID-19 has shown that the international system has been unable to ensure equal access to the vaccines and other products necessary to fight the pandemic. While the need for a strong response remains obvious, proposals for scaling up the production of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe are still blocked in the World Trade Organization.
A New WHO International Treaty on Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Can It Address the Needs of the Global South? (Policy Brief 93, May 2021)
By Dr. Germán Velásquez and Nirmalya Syam
A recent joint communiqué by 25 Heads of Government and the WHO Director-General have called for the negotiation of a pandemic treaty to enable countries around the world to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of the mechanisms at the disposal of WHO for preparedness and response to pandemics. The use of binding instruments to promote and protect health in the context of pandemics is needed. If WHO Member States decide that an international treaty to prepare and respond to pandemics is the way forward, it would be important to have clarity from the outset on the elements and areas that will be the subject of negotiation. The first step should be to identify the aspects of pandemic preparedness and response that the current crisis has revealed are not working, and how to build up on the existing instruments, notably the International Health Regulations (IHR). This paper discusses some of the critical issues that should be addressed in such a treaty if negotiations are launched, in view of the needs of countries at different levels of development and with disparate capacities to implement treaty obligations.
Un nouveau traité international de l’OMS sur la préparation et la riposte aux pandémies : pourra-t-il répondre aux besoins des pays du Sud ?( Rapport sur les politiques no. 93, Juillet 2021)
Par Dr. Germán Velásquez et Nirmalya Syam
Dans un récent communiqué signé par 25 chefs de gouvernement et le Directeur général de l’OMS, ceux-ci ont appelé à la négociation d’un traité sur les pandémies afin de permettre aux pays du monde entier de renforcer les capacités et la résilience des pays aux niveaux national, régional et mondial face aux futures pandémies. La pandémie de COVID-19 a démontré la fragilité des mécanismes dont dispose l’OMS pour se préparer et réagir aux pandémies. L’utilisation d’instruments contraignants pour promouvoir et protéger la santé dans le contexte des pandémies est nécessaire. Si les États Membres de l’OMS décident que le recours à un traité international de préparation et de riposte aux pandémies est la voie à suivre, il serait important de clarifier dès le départ les éléments et les domaines qui feront l’objet de négociations. La première étape devrait consister à identifier les aspects de la préparation et de la réponse aux pandémies dont la crise actuelle a révélé les inefficacités, et à déterminer comment s’appuyer sur les instruments existants, notamment le Règlement sanitaire international (RSI). Ce document examine certaines des questions essentielles qui devraient être abordées dans un tel traité si les négociations sont lancées, en tenant compte des besoins des pays à niveaux de développement différents et des capacités disparates pour mettre en œuvre les obligations découlant du traité.
Un nuevo tratado internacional de preparación y respuesta ante pandemias: ¿Podrá atender a las necesidades del Sur Global? (Informe sobre políticas no 93, Julio 2021)
Por Germán Velásquez y Nirmalya Syam
Un reciente comunicado conjunto de 25 Jefes de Gobierno y el Director General de la OMS han pedido que se negocie un tratado sobre pandemias que permita a los países de todo el mundo reforzar las capacidades y resiliencia nacionales, regionales y mundiales ante futuras pandemias. La pandemia del COVID-19 ha demostrado la fragilidad de los mecanismos a disposición de la OMS para la preparación y la respuesta a las pandemias. Es necesario utilizar instrumentos vinculantes para promover y proteger la salud en el contexto de las pandemias. Si los Estados miembros de la OMS deciden que el camino a seguir es un tratado internacional para la preparación y respuesta a las pandemias, sería importante tener claro desde el principio los elementos y áreas que serán objeto de negociación. El primer paso debe ser identificar los aspectos de la preparación y la respuesta ante una pandemia que la crisis actual ha puesto de manifiesto que no funcionan, y cómo aprovechar los instrumentos existentes, especialmente el Reglamento Sanitario Internacional (RSI). Este documento analiza algunas de las principales cuestiones que deberían abordarse en un tratado de este tipo si se inicia la negociación, teniendo en cuenta las necesidades de países que están en diferentes niveles de desarrollo y con capacidades dispares para aplicar las obligaciones del tratado.
The Role of Courts in Implementing TRIPS Flexibilities: Brazilian Supreme Court Rules Automatic Patent Term Extensions Unconstitutional (Policy Brief 94, June 2021)
By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido
This policy brief provides a background, summary and analysis of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court decision of 6 May 2021 that ruled automatic patent term extensions unconstitutional, striking down Article 40, Sole Paragraph, of the Brazilian Industrial Property Code of 1996. It concludes that this is a landmark ruling that contributes to the implementation of a more balanced patent regime in Brazil, with a positive impact on access to medicines in the country. It is an important precedent in relation to the role that courts may play in defining the contours of intellectual property protection and the TRIPS flexibilities.
Systemic reform of the international debt architecture is yet to start (Policy Brief 95, June 2021)
By Yuefen Li
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the reform of the international debt architecture to the policy agenda. Up to now policy measures to address the crushing debt burden of developing countries have focused on boosting time bound liquidity provision, which is insufficient in amount and restrictive in scope as debt-ridden and pandemic struck middle-income countries have not been covered. Even the implementation of these policy measures has been hindered by existing systemic problems. The reform of the debt architecture is yet to start. However, complacency seems to emerge. The risk of “wasting” the crisis should be avoided.
Investment Policy Options for Facing COVID-19 Related ISDS Claims (Investment Policy Brief 22, June 2021)
By Daniel Uribe and Danish
Developing and least developed countries have undertaken a number of measures to fight against the multidimensional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such measures and those that may be adopted in the context of the recovery efforts are, however, susceptible to challenges by foreign investors using investor-State dispute settlement mechanisms.
This policy brief first considers the kinds of measures States have adopted to limit the spread of COVID-19, protect their strategic sectors and promote economic recovery, including through foreign investment aftercare and retention. It then addresses how the investor-State dispute settlement system (ISDS) has been used by investors in times of crises, based on the analysis of the awards in several cases brought against both developed and developing countries.
Against this backdrop, the brief elaborates on the different options and initiatives States can take for preventing ISDS claims at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. It concludes with some policy advice for developing and least developed countries to face possible COVID-19 related ISDS claims in the future.
UNCITRAL Working Group III: Moving forward towards consensus or loosing balance? (Investment Policy Brief 23, July 2021)
By Daniel Uribe and Danish
This policy brief considers some concerns arising from the ongoing discussions on procedural reform of investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III. It highlights the need to allocate sufficient time to deliberate upon the important issues being raised by developing countries. It further discusses some structural reform options that have been identified by the Working Group and reflects on some concerns arising from a possible ‘single undertaking’ approach being implemented through a future possible multilateral agreement on ISDS.
Precios justos para la cobertura sanitaria universal: El impacto de la judicialización de la salud (Informe sobre políticas no 96, Julio 2021)
Por Silvina Andrea Bracamonte y José Luis Cassinerio
En el presente trabajo se describen las principales directrices y recomendaciones sobre políticas de precios para ayudar a los países a desarrollar estrategias efectivas, como herramientas para lograr el acceso equitativo a los productos sanitarios con precios asequibles, desechando el creciente fenómeno de la judicialización de la salud como vía adecuada para abordar con un enfoque sistémico esta problemática compleja.
The WTO TRIPS Waiver Should Help Build Vaccine Manufacturing Capacity in Africa (Policy Brief 97, July 2021)
By Faizel Ismail
The current global health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has re-focused our attention on the inadequacy of the TRIPS agreement and the patent system to address global public health crises. This time, developing countries must ensure that the TRIPS waiver succeeds in creating the impetus for the building of manufacturing capacity in the poorest countries, especially in Africa, for vaccines, pharmaceuticals and other health technologies. This is the only effective way in which African countries can reduce their dependence on imports of essential medicines and build their health security, contributing to the achievement of the sustainable development goals, for the poorest countries.
The Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas: what is next? (Policy Brief 98, July 2021)
By Luis Fernando Rosales Lozada
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) was adopted in December 2018. However, its application seems challenging. The South Centre organized a virtual meeting to discuss the implementation of the UNDROP on 4th June 2021, aiming to promote a debate about future actions to move forward the implementation of the UNDROP. The meeting provided an opportunity to listen to the views of government representatives, peasants’ associations, civil society organizations and academia. During the meeting, different questions were discussed such as how the current health and social crisis, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has impacted the situation of peasants, the role of the UNDROP in promoting and protecting peasants’ rights, the latest developments in the realization of the rights of peasants under the UNDROP and what steps are needed to promote its implementation.
The TRIPS COVID-19 Waiver, Challenges for Africa and Decolonizing Intellectual Property (Policy Brief 99, August 2021)
By Yousuf Vawda
The intellectual property (IP) regimes of African countries are a function of their colonial past, which imposed strong protections, and which have been entrenched through the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). This has had a devastating effect on their ability to access necessary health products both before and during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to reflect on the challenges that African countries face, before considering the implications of the WTO TRIPS waiver on COVID-19 (henceforth, waiver). In assessing the challenges faced by these countries, as well as the possibilities of improving access, this paper argues that while the waiver offers the best available solution to overcome the current supply shortages of a range of COVID-19 health products, in the longer term a break from this past—the decolonization of IP regimes—is necessary.
EU Proposals regarding Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic (Policy Brief 100, August 2021)
By Nirmalya Syam
This Policy Brief presents an analysis of the proposal by the European Union (EU) with regards to Article 31bis of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), as part of a Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health in the circumstances of a pandemic. It discusses the EU’s proposed clarifications, why Article31bis does not provide an effective solution to promote access to pharmaceutical products and possible options.
O papel dos tribunais na implementação das flexibilidades do TRIPS: Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF) do Brasil declara inconstitucionais as extensões automáticas de prazos de patentes (Policy Brief 94, Setembro 2021)
Por Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido
Este policy brief traz uma contextualização, um resumo e uma análise da decisão do Supremo Tribunal Federal do Brasil, de 6 de maio de 2021, que declarou inconstitucionais as extensões automáticas de prazos de patentes, revogando o Artigo 40, Parágrafo Único, da Lei de Propriedade Industrial do Brasil, de 1996. Conclui-se que esta é uma decisão histórica que contribui para a implementação de um regime de patentes mais equilibrado no Brasil, com impacto positivo no acesso a medicamentos no país. É um precedente importante no que se refere ao papel que os tribunais podem desempenhar na definição dos contornos da proteção à propriedade intelectual e das flexibilidades do Acordo TRIPS.
Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccine Production via Involuntary Technology Transfer (Policy Brief 102, September 2021)
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.
Will post COVID-19 pandemic lead to a climate compatible, more just, resilient and sustainable society? (SouthViews 194, 7 May 2020)
By Youba Sokona
As a result of the economic shutdown and physical lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2, have decreased and air pollution levels have seriously dropped. However, the temporary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the pandemic is not to be celebrated as it is not a result of deliberate climate and sustainable development policy. People who are the most vulnerable, most marginalized, and least empowered are the hardest hit by both COVID-19 and climate change. Both crises require robust scientific, evidence-based, accurate information in order to inform adequate policies and actions. They are global in nature and as such need global participation at all levels as well as strong international cooperation and transparency for their resolution.
COVID-19: An Opportunity to Fix Dysfunctional Biomedical R&D System (SouthViews 195, 14 May 2020)
By Sreenath Namboodiri
Failures of the patent system to meet the public health priorities demand a new approach in research and development (R&D) financing and incentive to pharmaceutical innovations. An R&D model delinking the cost of R&D from the price of the product is the way forward.
Taxing the Digital Economy to Fund the COVID-19 Response (SouthViews 196, 22 May 2020)
By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary and Daniel Uribe Teran
The COVID-19 pandemic has weakened global economic growth, raising pressures on revenue authorities to fund the fiscal stimulus necessary to contain the spread of the virus and provide income support to affected households. Accordingly, countries are taking national measures to tax the digital economy as highly digitalized businesses are seeing a rise in sales, subscribers and profits owing to the work from home lockdown measures. The three main policy responses undertaken are digital service taxes, nexus rules based on significant economic presence and withholding taxes on digital transactions. These are briefly summarized here and elaborated in detail in a forthcoming research paper by the South Centre Tax Initiative (SCTI).
The post-Covid world needs a new social contract (SouthViews 197, 22 May 2020)
By Alfred de Zayas
The post-Covid world requires a new social contract. The United Nations Secretary-General should convene a World Conference on Post-Covid Recovery based on multilateralism and international solidarity. This entails a paradigm shift in the prevailing economic, trade and social models. Governments bear responsibility for their unwise and inequitable budgetary allocations, which prioritized military expenditures over investment in health, education and people-centered infrastructures. A new functional paradigm on human rights should discard the skewed and artificial division of rights into those of the first, second and third generations and impose new categories of enabling rights, inherent rights, procedural rights and end rights so as to ensure human dignity and development for all.
COVID-19 Crisis and Developing Countries: Digital Health Perspective (SouthViews 198, 8 June 2020)
By Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen, Dr. Azeema Fareed, Ms. Huma Balouch
Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS)
Technology and Innovation are quintessentially relevant especially in dealing with the multiple threats posed by COVID-19. Most developing countries are already under tremendous stress because of financial constraints, enormous development challenges and technology innovation and knowledge deficiencies. COVID-19 which has disrupted every walk of life is having a multiplier effect on many countries, posing difficult governance choices. Reform and reorientation of the health system and structure is fundamentally important in dealing with the public health issues in the post COVID-19 period, and digital health could help in providing solutions.
COVID-19 Economy vs. Human Rights: A Misleading Dichotomy (SouthViews 199, 12 June 2020)
By Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky
While COVID-19 is a threat to the rights to life and health, the human rights impact of the crisis goes well beyond medical and public health concerns. The health crisis itself and a number of state measures to contain it-—mainly isolation and quarantine-—are leading the world into an economic recession. States and others need to take preventive and mitigating measures urgently to contain the pandemic and these must entail global cooperation and coordination. Just as the health crisis response must be rooted in human rights law, so too must national and international responses to the drastic economic downturn.
Making Covid-19 Medical Products Affordable: Voluntary Patent Pool and TRIPS Flexibilities (SouthViews 200, 16 June 2020)
By Sudip Chaudhuri
The proposal of Costa Rica to create a voluntary pool mechanism for medical products and technologies for COVID-19 has evoked huge interest and optimism. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Costa Rica have followed it up through a Solidarity Call emphasizing the need for voluntary licensing on non-exclusive basis to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). The success of a voluntary pool critically depends on the willingness of the patentees to join the pool. In a public health crisis, boundaries of public policy must not be determined by the patentees. MPP will work much better if the patentees are compelled or induced to join the pool. International cooperation is important in this regard. Highlighting the virtues of voluntary measures and promoting MPP without adequate emphasis on the use of compulsory licensing and other TRIPS flexibilities, actually weakens the MPP. In the light of the experience of MPP, the basic objective of this paper is to analyze to what extent voluntary pool mechanisms can be relied upon to make COVID-19 medical products affordable and accessible. It is important to appreciate the achievements of MPP. But the constraints under which it operates, and its limitations must also be kept in mind.
The Weakness of Economic Multilateralism/La debilidad del multilateralismo económico (SouthViews 201, 23 June 2020)
By José Antonio Ocampo/Por José Antonio Ocampo
The weakness of multilateral cooperation was evident at the meetings of the Group of 20 and the Bretton Woods institutions in Washington. The limited international cooperation contrasts with the ambitious domestic policies adopted by some developed countries, and in particular the United States, to manage their crisis. The big losers will be the emerging countries, for whom cooperation has so far been minimal.
La debilidad de la cooperación multilateral fue evidente en las reuniones del Grupo de los 20 y las instituciones de Bretton Woods que tuvieron lugar en Washington. La limitada cooperación internacional contrasta con las ambiciosas políticas internas que han adoptado algunos países desarrollados, y en particular los Estados Unidos, para manejar su crisis. Los grandes perdedores serán los países emergentes, para quienes la cooperación ha sido, hasta ahora, mínima.
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Lessons from COVID-19: Pharmaceutical Production as a Strategic Goal (SouthViews 202, 17 July 2020)
By Dr. Carlos M. Correa
As often said, major crises bring about challenges but also opportunities. The strategic importance of a local pharmaceutical industry has been growingly recognized as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Developing countries should take advantage of this opportunity to strengthen their pharmaceutical industry, including biological medicines. Industrial policies would need to be reformulated under an integrated approach so as to expand value added & create jobs while addressing public health needs. South-South cooperation may also play an important role in increasing the contribution of developing countries to the global production of pharmaceuticals.
Coronavirus pandemic: the vaccine as exit strategy
A GLOBAL HURDLE RACE AGAINST TIME WITH A SPLIT JURY (SouthViews 203, 24 July 2020)
By Francisco Colman Sercovich
Sars-CoV-2, a novel pathogen, submits a stern warning, a clarion call, on the huge human costs of shortsightedness, inaction and lessons lost in the face of common predicaments at the global level. Yet, a number of key actors remain oblivious, including ethically-challenged politicians seeking to elbow their way to the front of the queue at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable nations and communities. Contrary to expectations being formed, a safe and effective vaccine for the Covid-19 strain once, if ever, attained, is the best way out but unlikely to do as a silver bullet in the midst of the complexities and unknowns at play.
As a result of the harmful impact of the pandemic and ensuing policy aftermath, the world runs the risk of squandering the gains barely made in the fight against poverty over the last few decades – a looming scenario of egregious global governance failure, in view of the eight close calls recently received (three flu epidemics or near-flu epidemics, two Sars episodes, one Mers episode, Zika & Ebola). A promptly and universally distributed vaccine promises to prevent future disease outbreaks. However, many scientific, economic and distributional hurdles stand in the way. Whilst each day counts, the survival of hundreds of millions of lives hangs in the balance as health issues and those pertaining to livelihoods, nutrition, schooling and deprivation are so closely interdependent. Can we rule out the need to resort to internationally sanctioned legal remedies as an inescapable response?
The Covid-19 Pandemic and Liability under Investment Treaties (SouthViews 204, 11 August 2020)
By Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah
COVID-19 can increase liability for countries under international investment treaties. Professor M. Sornarajah, Emeritus Professor at the National University of Singapore, discusses in this SouthViews the imminent challenges faced under such treaties by developing countries. The text is based on his presentation at the South Centre webinar on “Responsible Investment for Development and Human Rights: Assessing Different Mechanisms to Face Possible Investor-State Disputes from COVID-19 Related Measures” held on 30th July 2020. The recording of the webinar is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXPswKuywvA
Is the right to exclusivity a Hamlet question? (SouthViews 207, 28 September 2020)
By Justice Prabha Sridevan
Today the judicial authority may be faced with balancing patent rights and patients’ rights or right to life. It shall use all the tools at its command and innovate if necessary, but shall rule in favour of life.
Access to medical supplies and devices — the lesser known story of COVID-19 and medical monopoly (SouthViews 208, 19 October 2020)
By Salimah Valiani
Discussions around access to potential vaccines for COVID-19 are widespread, particularly in the global South. Much less discussed is the lack of access to already existing medical technology crucial to stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus and assisting its most severely affected victims. The latter is the outcome of the monopoly control of medical technology — a phenomenon stretching at least as long as the monopoly of Big PHARMA — though much less understood.
Access to Medical Equipment in a Pandemic Situation: Importance of Localized Supply Chains and 3D Printing (SouthViews 213, 23 February 2021)
By Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD
The response to the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the weaknesses of the free trade system and failures of the traditional supply chains. Public health preparedness for future pandemics demands nation-states to increase their local production of medical supplies in order to reduce their dependence on third countries. Globally connected local production, enabled by digital fabrication tools, is arguably the best policy response to collaboratively address supply-chain vulnerabilities. 3D printing technology, which is the most prominent manifestation of digital fabrication ecosystems, can play a key role in enhancing the local production capacity in a time- and cost-efficient manner. This paper calls for an increased focus on local production and proposes a more systematic use of 3D printing capabilities to address shortages of critical medical equipment in a health emergency.
An Introduction to the UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries (SouthViews 216, 4 May 2021)
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.
Financing for development from the perspective of the right to development (SouthViews 217, 14 May 2021)
Summaries of two reports by Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development
In 2020, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to development, Saad Alfarargi, submitted two reports, one to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and the other to the UN General Assembly, on the issue of financing for development (FFD) from the perspective of the right to development (RTD). The first report (A/HRC/45/15) analyzed national-level FFD, while the second report (A/75/167) focused on the international dimension of FFD. In both reports the Special Rapporteur highlighted relevant challenges, with a particular focus on how to ensure the meaningful participation of rights-holders.
The Proposed Pandemic Treaty and the Challenge of the South for a Robust Diplomacy (SouthViews 218, 19 May 2021)
By Obijiofor Aginam
The motivation for a pandemic treaty is infallible because of the ‘globalization of public health’ in a rapidly evolving interdependence of nations, societies, and peoples. Notwithstanding the lofty purposes of the proposed pandemic treaty as a tool for effective cooperation by member-states of the WHO to address emerging and re-emerging disease pandemics in an inter-dependent world, the proposal nonetheless raises some structural and procedural conundrums for the Global South. The negotiation of a pandemic treaty should, as a matter of necessity, take into account the asymmetries of World Health Organization member-states and the interests of the Global South.
Development Priorities for Africa in 2021 and Beyond (SouthViews 222, 12 July 2021)
By Judith Amelia Louis
The author posits that Covid-19 is not the only major problem facing the global South and Africa in particular, although it is the most pressing for the times 2020-2021. The writer attempts to present important priority areas for attention by policymakers and decision makers at the national and regional levels in Africa within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The paper recognizes that the social, economic, and political problems facing Africa are common to all its nation States and calls upon the African Union to play a more proactive role in shaping policy programs to address these persistent problems, including the crafting of statesmen genuinely committed to ‘people-centered development’. The article discusses the issues impacting select priorities of socio-economic welfare; improved governance; human capital investment; regularization of migration and stemming the ‘brain drain’. Suggested policy actions are prescribed as solutions towards achieving development. Urgent action in controlling their economies with the acquisition and retention of requisite skills and technology is the undertone of the paper given the picture of poverty characterizing basic needs data for the continent. For example, in the health sector there are shortages of medical personnel, a situation magnified by the Covid pandemic.
The author envisions Africa’s development utilizing its vast untapped potential including, inter alia, a young population.
Vaccination inequalities and the role of the multilateral system (SouthViews 224, 19 July 2021)
By Carlos M. Correa
The COVID-19 crisis has evidenced the fragility of the multilateral system to address a global health challenge. There are multiple reasons behind it. Since donations are not enough, a global solution to the pandemic would have required concerted actions in several fronts. The author suggests that, while examining how the proposed “pandemic treaty” might contribute to a global solution in future health emergencies, immediate actions are needed.
Vaccine Nationalism (SouthViews 225, 21 July 2021)
By Prof. Ujal Singh Bhatia
The author posits that the global public health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic along with the economic and distributional aspects of vaccines and treatments, involves a market failure without the underlying institutional safety nets for an effective, globally coordinated response. He proposes strong, self-standing institutions with clear mandates and resources to make effective interventions at three levels: political, financial and regulatory. Also, the WTO rules regarding export restrictions are at present too accommodative to allow for a quick response. For Intellectual Property, both manufacturing and licensing, and relaxation of IP rules should be considered.
Carving Out a Role for Human Rights in International Investment Law (SouthViews 228, 15 October 2021)
by Barnali Choudhury
The public health burdens that have been imposed on governments by Covid-19 serve as an important reminder of the importance for states to be able to regulate public health as well as other human rights issues. Commentators are already describing the myriad of investment arbitration claims that states may expect to face for their acts in handling the Covid-19 crisis. By carving out a role for human rights in international investment law, states can ensure that protection of human dignity, not property interests, will continue to be their ultimate objective.
South Centre Statement to G24 (SouthNews No. 317, 14 April 2020)
The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a major health calamity with mounting humanitarian costs but also the biggest economic crisis since the Second World War. Immediate debt relief is needed for poor countries with unsustainable debt. The global pandemic requires a global solution and solidarity.
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Intellectual Property Management for Access to Diagnostics, Medicines and Vaccines (SouthNews No. 319, 8 May 2020)
By Viviana Muñoz Tellez and Vitor Ido
The South Centre held an open webinar with Dr. Carlos Correa, Executive Director, and Dr. Viviana Munoz Tellez, Coordinator of the Health, Intellectual Property and Biodiversity (HIPB) Program, on 30 April 2020 to discuss access to diagnostics, medicines and vaccines for addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. There is an urgent need to ensure that innovations in medical technologies for Covid-19 go hand in hand with affordable access to these, for all. The main principle to move forward is recognition of these technologies and know how as global public goods.
South Centre Statement at the WHA73 (SouthNews No. 321, 18 May 2020)
Message from the South Centre to the 73rd World Health Assembly
Today we are facing a global health, economic and social crisis, the most serious in the last hundred years. The resolution adopted by this World Health Assembly on COVID-19 should have been more ambitious given the dimension of the current crisis. The response to an exceptional challenge must be exceptional. The COVID-19 pandemic forces us to reflect on whether many health systems and the World Health Organization (WHO) itself were prepared to face this crisis.
Costa Rica and Chile announced an open, collaborative platform to combat COVID-19 (SouthNews No. 322, 19 May 2020)
By Mirza Alas
On Friday, May 15th the World Health Organization (WHO) held its press briefing for the World Health Assembly on COVID-19. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, noted that the WHO had received a proposal from Costa Rica, and had accepted to assist to set up a health technology repository for vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and any other tools that may work against COVID-19. A platform for open, collaborative sharing of knowledge, data and intellectual property on existing and new health tools to combat COVID-19 will be launched. Dr. Tedros noted that new health tools would not end the pandemic without equitable access to them. Moreover, traditional market models will not be able to deliver at the scale that is needed to cover the entire globe; emphasizing solidarity within and between countries and the private sector is essential to overcome these difficult times. Dr. Tedros made a call for leaders to come together.
Communiqué from Africa’s Leadership in COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Virtual Conference (SouthNews No. 324, 2 July 2020)
African Union (AU) Ministers of Health and Heads of Delegation commit to scale collective effort for access to COVID-19 vaccines, to promote local manufacturing and use of flexibilities of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), at the COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Virtual Conference held on 24-25 June 2020.
WTO TRIPS Council discusses national IP measures and TRIPS flexibilities in the context of COVID-19 (SouthNews No. 327, 7 August 2020)
By Nirmalya Syam
A regular session of the TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Council was held virtually on 30 July 2020. This session offered the first opportunity for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Members to discuss intellectual property (IP) related issues in the context of COVID-19. Discussions focused on national measures taken by various countries in relation to IP in response to COVID-19 as well as the scope of the use of TRIPS flexibilities across the spectrum of various IP rights in order to ensure rapid development, scaled up manufacturing of and affordable, timely and equitable access to various technologies and products required to respond to COVID-19. South Africa made a strong general statement pointing to the need to consider new bold measures that will comprehensively and expeditiously address IP challenges.
EU Parliament adopts resolution on public health strategy post-COVID-19 based on use of TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access to health technologies (SouthNews No. 329, 12 August 2020)
By Nirmalya Syam
The European Parliament has adopted a Resolution on the post-COVID-19 European Union (EU) health strategy that calls upon the European Commission (EC) and EU member States to make use of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities, including granting compulsory licenses, ensure joint procurement and transparency of research and development (R&D) costs and pricing, as well as explore alternatives to the existing intellectual property based model of incentivizing biomedical research and development.
COVID-19 impact actions across Africa. First-hand information from policymakers and leading experts (SouthNews No. 330, 19 August 2020)
By Rajesh Eralil and Youba Sokona
Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, has generally low levels of socio-economic development and modern energy usage. The COVID-19 outbreak and its consequent economic downturn present additional challenges and pose questions requiring urgent answers. Success of the pandemic measures depends upon, among other elements, a strategic vision reflecting current situation and future uncertainties; and aligning interests of all stakeholders. In order to build such a strategic vision, the South Centre, the African Energy Commission (AFREC) of the African Union and the Clean Energy Innovations Partnership (CEIP) are organizing a series of webinars entitled “Energy for sustainable development in Africa in the post-COVID-19 world – looking for the New Normal” and have invited leading experts to facilitate information gathering and to generate ideas for further work on strategies development and stakeholders’ engagement necessary for the continent’s energy transition in the post-COVID-19 world.
In the first webinar “COVID-19 impact actions across Africa. First-hand information from policymakers and leading experts”, held on 16 July 2020, we discussed the multifaceted effects of COVID-19 in the continent and on different stakeholders and which approaches experts and policy makers propose to better respond to the crisis and be well prepared for the recovery era.
Innovación y propiedad intelectual en escenarios pospandemia (SouthNews No. 331, 20 August 2020)
by Derecho al Dia
Los días 23 de junio, 7 y 21 de julio tuvo lugar el seminario “Innovación y propiedad intelectual en escenarios pospandemia”, organizado en conjunto por el Centros de Estudios Interdisciplinarios de Derechos Industrial y Económico (CEIDIE) y el South Centre.
Sustainable Energy for Africa: transition through growth. How to boost output, improve access and reduce impact on the nature and society? Technologies, scenarios, strategies, sources of finance and business models (SouthNews No. 335, 11 September 2020)
By Dmitry Kalinin and Rajesh Eralil
On July 22, 2020 the successful series of webinars on COVID-19 response and post-COVID development in Africa was continued with an international discussion on “Sustainable Energy for Africa: transition through growth. How to boost output, improve access and reduce impact on the nature and society? Technologies, scenarios, strategies, sources of finance and business models”.
This second webinar in the series focused on practical solutions to increase energy access and advance the energy transition in the context of the Covid crisis and recovery. Leading African and international experts presented specific challenges and solutions.
Enhance South-South cooperation in the era of COVID-19 and the recovery process (SouthNews No. 336, 12 September 2020)
Carlos Correa, Executive Director of South Centre
On the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the United Nations (UN) South-South Cooperation (SSC) Day, we should celebrate the great achievements made over the years, highlight the immense challenges ahead in flattening the curve of COVID-19 and recover better through leveraging South-South and Triangular cooperation (SSTrC).
South Centre co-organizes discussions on Covid-19 Vaccines in Brazil (SouthNews No. 337, 18 September 2020)
By Vitor Ido
The South Centre jointly organized with the School of Magistrates of the Second Federal Region of Brazil (EMARF-2) two webinars to discuss the main issues pertaining to Covid-19 vaccines in Brazil. The first webinar, focused on an analysis and on solutions in relation to the law of intellectual property (IP), was held on 7 July 2020. The second webinar, focused on aspects of access, regulation and competition related to Covid-19 vaccines, took place on 5 August 2020.
COVID-19 and the right to development (SouthNews No. 338, 21 September 2020)
Intervention of Dr. Carlos Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre, at the biennial panel discussion on the right to development, 45th session of the Human Rights Council held on 17 September 2020 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
Tax policy options for funding the post-COVID recovery in the Global South (SouthNews No. 339, 22 September 2020)
By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary
The South Centre in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Tax Justice organized a webinar on the theme, “Tax policy options for funding the post-COVID recovery in the Global South” on 23 July 2020. The primary objective of the webinar was to provide developing countries with a set of practical policy options that could be used to raise revenue from international taxation. A secondary objective was to lay out the opportunities and risks in multilateral negotiations on the taxation of the digitalized economy now ongoing in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)/Group of Twenty (G20) Inclusive Framework, which is in reality a much larger discussion on the redistribution of taxing rights between source and residence countries. The speakers examined the challenging international economic context for developing countries and discussed policy options for developing countries both at the domestic and international levels.
Action at the WTO is needed to accelerate research, development, manufacturing and supply of medical products to combat Covid-19: Proposal from India and South Africa (SouthNews No. 341, 5 October 2020)
By Viviana Munoz Tellez
India and South Africa are calling for the WTO Members to agree to waive some of the obligations on protection and enforcement of patents and other intellectual property rights during the Covid-19 pandemic. The South Centre encourages all WTO Members to support the proposal in the upcoming TRIPS Council meeting on 10-11 October 2020 to forward a request to the General Council for the adoption of the decision text.
High-Level Representatives from Governments, IGOs and NGOs reflect on the role for WHO’s C-TAP to ensure access to COVID-19 health technologies (SouthNews No. 343, 8 October 2020)
By Vitor Ido and Mirza Alas
On 25 September 2020, the Government of Costa Rica, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) and the PATHFINDERS (for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, hosted by the Center on International Cooperation, New York University (NYU)) organized a high-level event to discuss how to ensure access to COVID-19 health technologies, with a particular focus on the role of and need for the Costa Rican-proposed and WHO-managed COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).
The 74th UN General Assembly Adopts New Resolutions on COVID-19 Response (SouthNews No. 344, 9 October 2020)
By Mirza Alas and Nirmalya Syam
On 11th September the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (GA) adopted an omnibus resolution titled “Comprehensive and coordinated response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic” (document A/RES/74/306), and another resolution titled “United response against global health threats: combating COVID-19” (document A/RES/74/307). These resolutions follow the adoption of two previous resolutions by the General Assembly on “Global solidarity to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)” and the resolution on “International cooperation to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to face COVID-19.”
STATEMENT BY DR. CARLOS CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, TO THE MINISTERS AND GOVERNORS MEETING OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP OF TWENTY-FOUR (G-24) (SouthNews No. 345, 13 October 2020)
WHO´s Executive Board assesses current COVID-19 response and requests to be more involved in the review processes (SouthNews No. 346, 20 October 2020)
By Mirza Alas and Vitor Ido
The World Health Organization´s (WHO) Executive Board (EB), comprised of 34 individuals nominated by Member States of the organization, met in a special session on COVID-19 response on 5-6 October 2020.
WTO TRIPS Council discusses major proposals from developing and least developed countries for waiving certain TRIPS obligations and extension of transition period for LDCs (SouthNews No. 347, 23 October 2020)
By Nirmalya Syam
A regular session of the World Trade Organization (WTO) TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Council held on 15-16 October discussed two major proposals submitted by developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs). In addition, this session of the TRIPS Council, chaired by Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter of South Africa, also discussed several standing agenda items. These included an annual review of the special compulsory licensing system incorporated under article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement, and the issues relating to non-violation and situation complaints under TRIPS.
STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. HUGH HILTON TODD, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA, AT THE FORTY-FOURTH ANNUAL MEETING OF MINISTERS FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA – THEMATIC DEBATE: “GLOBAL RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE OBSTACLES IT POSES TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2030 AGENDA AND ACHIEVEMENT OF THE SDGS” (New York, 12 November 2020) (SouthNews No. 351, 19 November 2020)
Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCMs) and their Impacts in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic (SouthNews No. 355, 8 December 2020)
“The complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures, in order to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all members of the international community to COVID-19” is one of the calls of the Joint Communiqué issued by the Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of 19 countries, Belarus, Bolivia (PS of), Burundi, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran (IR of), Laos (PDR of), China (PR of), Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Korea (DPR of), Pakistan, Palestine, Russian Federation, South Africa, Syria, Venezuela (BR of) and Zimbabwe at the virtual seminar on Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCMs) and their Impacts in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic organized jointly by the Permanent Missions of the Republic of Cuba, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Vienna on 30 November 2020. The text of the Joint Communiqué is reproduced below.
The impact of unilateral sanctions on human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic: findings from study by the Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights (SouthNews No. 356, 9 December 2020)
Alena Douhan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights, undertook a study on the “Impact of unilateral sanctions on human rights during the state of emergency in the context of COVID-19 pandemic”. Some of the findings from the study were presented at the virtual seminar “Unilateral coercive measures in the context of COVID-19 pandemic situation” held on 30 November 2020. The full statement is reproduced here.
UNGA Resolution on Global health and foreign policy: strengthening health system resilience through affordable health care for all, adopted 14 December (SouthNews No. 358, 21 December 2020)
By Viviana Munoz Tellez
On 14 December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on “Global health and foreign policy: strengthening health system resilience through affordable health care for all”, A/RES/75/130. The resolution was adopted by vote, 181-1-0, in contrast to previous resolutions on the topic adopted yearly by consensus based on proposals by the core group of the Global Health and Foreign Policy Initiative. The draft resolution A/75/L.41 was presented by Brazil, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Mali, Mongolia, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Viet Nam. Informal consultations were led by Indonesia.
South Centre series on manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 kicks off with Brazil’s Butantan Institute’s experience with Sinovac (SouthNews No. 363, 1 April 2021)
By Vitor Ido
The South Centre has launched a series of webinars aimed at sharing information about the capacities for COVID-19 vaccines manufacturing in developing countries, understanding how these are built and could be expanded, facilitating the exchange on concrete experiences in addressing issues of technology transfer, know-how and intellectual property in contractual agreements, and advancing ideas on how the multiple challenges that arise could be addressed. The first session took place on 23 March 2021 with Butantan Institute (São Paulo, Brazil), to discuss its partnership with Sinovac Life Sciences (Beijing), including clinical trials, technology transfer and local manufacturing of the Coronavac vaccine in Brazil.
Broad support for the extension of the transition period exempting LDCs from implementing the TRIPS Agreement – but consensus lagging at WTO (SouthNews No. 366, 20 May 2021)
By Nirmalya Syam
Least Developed Country (LDC) Members are exempted till 1 July 2021 from implementing obligations to protect intellectual property rights (IPRs) under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In the October 2020 session of the TRIPS Council, the LDC Members submitted a duly motivated request (IP/C/W/668) for further extension of this period, as provided for under Article 66.1 of the Agreement. The LDC group is requesting extension of this transition period until their graduation from LDC status and thereafter for a period of 12 years. While the request by the LDC group has received general support in the TRIPS Council, some developed country Members (notably the United States, European Union (EU), Japan, Canada and Switzerland) have sought further clarification from the LDC group on the scope of the requested extension. Discussions have not progressed beyond informal consultations. Text-based negotiations are needed in order to timely adopt a decision by the TRIPS Council granting the extension. This is concerning, given that the expiry date of the current transition period – 1 July 2021 – is drawing nearer.
In this context, the South Centre organized a webinar on 9 April 2021 to discuss the request by the LDC Members. The panelists agreed that the request is just, legitimate and permissible under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
An overview of the growing legal measures and initiatives at national level and at the WTO to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines (SouthNews No. 367, 22 May 2021)
By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage health systems, particularly in the global South, a growing number of legal and political mechanisms to foster access to vaccines, scale-up manufacturing capacity and promote technology transfer have been introduced across the world. While the policy space of developing countries which do not hold the technologies for Covid-19 vaccines (including the new mRNA platform) is in practice (though not de lege) more limited than in jurisdictions which may have control over such technologies, the growing list of adopted measures highlights the multiple attempts to address the stark inequalities in global vaccines allocation. It also elicits how demands for vaccine equality cannot be addressed with a single solution, but with a collective endeavor at multiple instances, of actors and countries. This text provides a glimpse of some of them.
Non-Aligned Movement Statement at the 74th World Health Assembly (SouthNews No. 368, 2 June 2021)
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) stressed at the 74th World Health Assembly that “the control of the pandemic relies on proper preparedness, prevention, resilience-building, and greater national, regional and international collaboration, worldwide solidarity and actions to address this challenge in an effective and timely manner”. It reiterated its “traditional support for multilateralism with the United Nations (UN) at its core, expresses full support to the UN Secretary-General’s and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s efforts and coordinated actions to fight the pandemic”, noted “the proposal to conclude a Pandemic Treaty” and looked forward to “receiving more details on the proposal and to the inclusive engagement of all Member States in the consultations”. The statement delivered by H.E. Teymur Musayev, Minister of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan on behalf of NAM is reproduced below.
Una descripción general de las crecientes medidas legales e iniciativas a nivel nacional y en la OMC para garantizar el acceso a vacunas contra la Covid-19 (SouthNews No. 369, 3 de junio de 2021)
Por Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido
A medida que la pandemia de Covid-19 continúa devastando los sistemas de salud, en particular, en el sur a nivel global, se introdujo una creciente cantidad de mecanismos legales y políticos para fomentar el acceso a vacunas, aumentar la capacidad de fabricación y promover la transferencia de tecnología en todo el mundo. Mientras que el espacio de políticas de los países en vías de desarrollo, los cuales no cuentan con las tecnologías para vacunas contra la Covid-19 (incluida la nueva plataforma mRNA), se implementa (aunque no de lege) de forma más limitada que en jurisdicciones que pueden contar con dichas tecnologías, la creciente lista de medidas adoptadas destaca los varios intentos de abordar las marcadas desigualdades en la asignación global de vacunas. También infiere por qué las demandas de igualdad de vacunas no se pueden abordar con una solución única, sino mediante un esfuerzo conjunto en varias instancias, actores y países. Este texto ofrece un vistazo sobre algunos de ellos.
Un aperçu du nombre croissant des mesures et initiatives juridiques au niveau national et à l’OMC pour garantir l’accès aux vaccins contre la Covid-19 (SouthNews No. 370, 3 juin 2021)
Par Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido
Alors que la pandémie de Covid-19 continue de ravager les systèmes de santé, en particulier dans les pays de l’hémisphère Sud, un nombre croissant de mécanismes juridiques et politiques pour favoriser l’accès aux vaccins, accroître la capacité de fabrication et promouvoir le transfert de technologie ont été introduits dans le monde. Tandis que l’espace politique des pays en développement qui ne détiennent pas les technologies pour les vaccins contre la Covid-19 (y compris la nouvelle plateforme à base d’ARNm) est en pratique (mais pas la législation) plus limité que dans les juridictions qui peuvent avoir le contrôle sur ces technologies, la liste croissante des mesures adoptées met en évidence les multiples tentatives visant à remédier les inégalités flagrantes dans l’allocation mondiale des vaccins. Cela montre également comment les demandes d’égalité des vaccins ne peuvent pas être traitées par une seule solution, mais par un effort collectif dans de multiples instances, acteurs et pays. Ce texte donne un aperçu de certains d’entre elles.
Large soutien à la prorogation de la période de transition exemptant les pays les moins avancés (PMA) de la mise en œuvre de l’Accord sur les ADPIC – mais le consensus demeure en retard à l’OMC (SouthNews No. 371, 5 juin 2021)
Par Nirmalya Syam
Les PMA membres sont exemptés jusqu’au 1er juillet 2021 de la mise en œuvre des obligations de protection des droits de propriété intellectuelle au titre de l’Accord sur les ADPIC. À la session d’octobre 2020 du Conseil des ADPIC, les PMA membres ont présenté une demande dûment motivée (IP/C/W/668) pour une nouvelle prorogation de cette période, comme le prévoit l’article 66:1 de l’Accord. Le groupe des PMA demande la prorogation de cette période de transition jusqu’à leur retrait du statut de PMA, puis pour une période de 12 ans. Bien que la demande du groupe des PMA ait reçu un soutien général du Conseil des ADPIC, certains pays développés membres (notamment les États-Unis, l’UE, le Japon, le Canada et la Suisse) ont demandé au groupe des PMA des éclaircissements supplémentaires sur la portée de la prorogation demandée. Les discussions n’ont pas progressé au-delà des consultations informelles. Des négociations fondées sur des propositions de texte sont nécessaires pour adopter en temps opportun une décision du Conseil des ADPIC accordant la prorogation. Cela est préoccupant, étant donné que la date d’expiration de la période de transition actuelle – le 1er juillet 2021 – se rapproche.
Dans ce contexte, le Centre Sud a organisé un webinaire le 9 avril 2021 pour discuter de la demande des PMA membres. Les panélistes ont convenu que la demande était juste, légitime et admissible au regard des règles de l’OMC.
Amplio respaldo por la extensión del período de transición que exime a los países menos desarrollados (LDC) de implementar el Acuerdo TRIPS; no obstante, se está demorando el consenso en la OMC (SouthNews No. 372, 5 de junio de 2021)
Por Nirmalya Syam
Los miembros de LDC quedan eximidos hasta el 1.° de julio de 2021 de implementar sus obligaciones de proteger los derechos de propiedad intelectual en virtud del Acuerdo TRIPS. En la sesión de octubre de 2020 del Consejo de TRIPS, los miembros de LDC enviaron una solicitud debidamente motivada (IP/C/W/668) para extender aún más este período, conforme lo dispuesto en el Artículo 66.1 del Acuerdo. El grupo de LDC solicita una extensión de este período de transición hasta su exclusión del estado LDC y, a partir de allí, por un período de 12 años. Si bien la solicitud del grupo de LDC se recibió con respaldo general en el Consejo de TRIPS, algunos miembros de países desarrollados (principalmente, los EE. UU., la U. E., Japón, Canadá y Suiza) solicitaron más aclaraciones al grupo de LDC sobre el alcance de la extensión solicitada. Los debates no pasaron de consultas informales. Se necesitan negociaciones basadas en texto para que el Consejo de TRIPS adopte una decisión oportuna que otorgue la extensión. Esto es alarmante, ya que la fecha de vencimiento del actual período de transición, del 1.° de julio de 2021, está cada vez más cerca.
En este contexto, el South Centre organizó un webinar el 9 de abril de 2021 para debatir la solicitud de los miembros de LDC. Los panelistas aceptaron que la solicitud es justa, legitima y permisible en virtud de las normas de la OMC.
South Centre participation at the 20th session of the United Nations High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation (SouthNews No. 373, 7 June 2021)
By Yuefen Li
The 20th session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation started on 1 June and concluded on 4 June 2021. This is the most important United Nations (UN) intergovernmental meeting on South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTrC) since the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) of 2019. The meeting is tasked to review progress made in implementing the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, the new directions strategy for South-South Cooperation (SSC), the Nairobi outcome document of the High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation and the Buenos Aires outcome document of BAPA+40. After four days of deliberation and negotiations, the High-Level Committee endorses its decision on South-South Cooperation.
The South Centre actively participated in this meeting.
Elaboration of a new draft Convention on the Right to Development kicks off at the UN (SouthNews No. 374, 8 June 2021)
By Daniel Uribe and Danish
The Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on the Right to Development met virtually for its 21st session from 17-21 May 2021 to discuss a new draft Convention on the Right to Development.
Investment agreements and intellectual property: concerns for developing countries on possible investor claims in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (SouthNews No. 375, 10 June 2021)
By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido
On 28 May 2021, the South Centre organized the first of a series of webinars on emerging trends related to free trade agreements (FTAs) and investment agreements that impact public health. The first webinar in this series discussed the topic of investment agreements and intellectual property. Investment agreements include intellectual property (IP) as a category of investment, which may give rise to claims based on “indirect expropriation” and “fair and equitable treatment” of foreign companies to the detriment of legitimate public policy measures undertaken by countries, such as to respond to a public health need.
Ensuring a Sustainable and Resilient Response to COVID-19 and Emerging Infectious Diseases through Local Production (SouthNews No. 378, 16 July 2021)
By Mirza Alas and Vitor Ido
On the 6th of July the South Centre together with ReAct – Action on Antibiotic Resistance and Innovation+Design Enabling Access (IDEA) Initiative at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health co-organized a side event at the United Nations High-level Political Forum. The virtual event aimed to highlight how a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 will require an effective way of boosting local or regional production of health products, from face masks to vaccines, needed to respond to the challenge. The panel provided perspectives on the importance of expanding local production and harnessing regional pooled procurement. A summary of the presentations by all speakers is provided in this article.
South Centre and Thammasat University held successful online regional course on intellectual property and public health for judges from 13 Asian countries (SouthNews No. 381, 8 October 2021)
By Vitor Ido
The South Centre and the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University (Bangkok, Thailand) jointly organized an Asian Regional Course for Judges on Intellectual Property and Public Health during the month of August 2021. Judges from 13 countries participated, including members of Supreme Courts, specialized IP courts, appeals courts, administrative courts within patent offices, competition authorities, and general civil courts. The course was organized online on the South Centre’s e-learning platform.
The world economic recovery has weakened before taking root: G24 Ministers and Governors meeting (SouthNews No. 382, 13 October 2021)
The annual Ministers and Governors meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four on International Monetary Affairs and Development (G-24) took place virtually on 11 October 2021.
Despite the projections of world GDP growth close to 6 percent for 2021 and about 5 percent for 2022, ministers and governors expressed grave concerns for the highly uneven economic growth among countries, the very divergent access to vaccines, immensely different capacities to provide fiscal support, provision of international liquidity, escalating debt burden and climate change challenges. With these challenges, the momentum for world economic recovery has weakened before taking root. The ministers and governors have proposed policy measures to counter these challenges as elaborated in the G-24 communiqué endorsed at the meeting of 11th October. The communiqué is available at https://www.g24.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/G-24-Communique-Final-October-Meetings-2021.pdf.
The South Centre is an observer to the G-24. The Executive Director of the South Centre, Dr. Carlos Correa, has submitted a statement to the meeting expressing the Centre’s views and proposals. The submission is reproduced below.
UNCTAD 15 endorsed the Bridgetown Covenant and the Spirit of Speightstown (SouthNews No. 384, 15 October 2021)
By Yuefen Li
The fifteenth session of the quadrennial conference for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was held virtually and hosted in Bridgetown, Barbados from 3 to 7 October 2021 under the theme of “From inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all”.
South Centre working session at the WTO Public Forum 2021 discussed the future of the TRIPS Agreement post COVID-19 (SouthNews No. 385, 19 October 2021)
By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido
On 29 September, the South Centre organized a working session on “The Future of the TRIPS Agreement Post COVID-19” at the 2021 WTO Public Forum. Over 130 participants joined the hybrid session. Dr. Yuanqiong Hu, MSF Access Campaign, Geneva, Prof. Hyo Yoon Kang, University of Kent, UK, Dr. Dean Baker, Center for Economic Policy and Research, Washington DC, and Dr. Carlos M. Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre, joined in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Viviana Muñoz-Tellez, Coordinator of the Health, Intellectual Property and Biodiversity Programme of the South Centre.
WHO/UNICEF webinar training on WASH for health care facilities (South Centre News on AMR 38, 8 April 2020)
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are currently organizing a mini training series through webinars to help increase capacity related to water, sanitation and hygiene interventions (WASH) for health care facilities (HCF) as guidance for COVID-19. As WASH interventions are critical in preventing all infections, they are a vital element in addressing antimicrobial resistance, in addition to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
WHO recommends measures to improve antimicrobial use during the COVID-19 pandemic (South Centre News on AMR 41, 2 July 2020)
By Viviana Muñoz Tellez
Antimicrobial stewardship involves appropriate prescription and optimized use of antimicrobials. The July issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO) features an editorial arguing that antimicrobial stewardship activities should be integrated into the COVID-19 pandemic response across the broader health system.
Civil Society press for actions on Antimicrobial Resistance (South Centre News on AMR 42, 15 July 2020)
The Antibiotic Resistance Coalition (ARC), a coalition of over 25 civil society organizations working to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from a One Health perspective, has published its June newsletter highlighting key activities by its members relating to the response to COVID-19 and AMR. The South Centre is also a member of ARC as an intergovernmental partner.
NEW South Centre Policy Brief: Examining antimicrobial resistance in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic (South Centre News on AMR 43, 16 July 2020)
The South Centre is pleased to announce the publication of Policy Brief No. 82 entitled “Examining antimicrobial resistance in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic” by Mirfin Mpundu, Caline Mattar and Mirza Alas.
ReAct Africa and South Centre bring together African civil society organizations to advance actions on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) (South Centre News on AMR 49, 20 April 2021)
By Mirza Alas
From 24 to 26 of March, ReAct Africa and South Centre co-organized a virtual workshop for civil society with the theme “Increasing CSOs Participation to address AMR and contribute to the global development agenda.”
During the three days, civil society organizations (CSOs) from the African region met -virtually- to learn about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to address AMR exposure and transmission across humans, animals, the environment and food systems. The workshop also offered space to learn from advocacy efforts in HIV/AIDs, communication strategies through social media, and experiences designing innovative materials.
Highlights of the UN High-Level Dialogue on Tackling AMR (South Centre News on AMR 50, 22 June 2021)
By Mirza Alas
On 29 of April 2021, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly held a High-Level Interactive Dialogue on Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The purpose of the dialogue was to strengthen political commitment, take stock of progress, recommit to actions, and build back better from COVID-19. The dialogue also aimed at presenting practical steps to address current challenges to tackle AMR “as part of future pandemic preparedness through a One Health approach while supporting the delivery of the SDGs.” The High-Level Dialogue is part of the discussions that have been held at the United Nations to highlight the AMR issue. In 2016, the UN held the High-level Meeting on AMR which adopted a political declaration to advance actions on AMR.
The Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers addresses Antimicrobial Resistance (South Centre News on AMR 51, 16 September 2021)
By Viviana Munoz Tellez
The Group of Twenty (G20) Health Ministers’ meeting was held in Rome on 5 and 6 September 2021. The discussion focused on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and future preparedness and response to pandemics. The need for increased actions to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was also on the agenda.
The Declaration adopted by the G20 reaffirms several of the commitments on AMR already made previously and links action on AMR to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Intellectual Property Management for Access to Diagnostics, Medicines and Vaccines (Webinar), 30 April 2020
Developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in particular in Africa are especially vulnerable to the unfolding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A priority area for global collaboration is to ensure that diagnostics, vaccines and medicines are made available, affordable and accessible worldwide. There is currently no vaccine and no proven safe and effective direct therapy for COVID-19. There is also the need to accelerate testing capacity and tools in developing countries and LDCs with increased access to low-cost diagnostics. The approach to the management of intellectual property rights by research institutions, pharmaceutical and biotech companies and R&D funders will decisively affect availability and access, as well as the transfer of technology and know-how. Governments must ensure that they have legislative and procedural frameworks in place to enable them to over-come, consistently with the TRIPS Agreement, any patent, data exclusivity and trade secret barriers to procure and produce COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines, medicines and other therapeutics. This webinar provided participants with information on recent South Centre Covid-19 publications.
Tax Policy Options For Funding the Post-COVID Recovery in the Global South (Webinar Series on Development and COVID-19), 23 July 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected tax revenue collection globally, with the Global South especially hard-hit. The decline in economic activity has meant reduced corporate profits, declining consumption and increasing unemployment. This in turn implies declining revenue from corporate income taxes, goods and services taxes and personal income taxes. Resource-rich countries are especially being affected by the drop in global commodity prices and decline in international trade. This reduction in revenue collection is limiting developing countries’ ability to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. It is therefore necessary to explore what are the concrete tax policy measures developing countries can take to raise revenue at this critical time. Measures pertaining to the digitalized economy are of particular importance given the increasing sales of tech companies and highly digitalized businesses during the lockdown.
The webinar will hence feature prominent voices of the Global South on the national and international tax policy options for funding the post-COVID-19 recovery. Speakers will also provide an overview of the multilateral discussions in the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on taxing the digitalized economy, a topic of seminal importance as it is in effect a redistribution of taxing rights between source and residence jurisdictions. The speakers are a diverse mix representing tax administrations, academia and civil society from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Responsible Investment for Development and Human Rights: Assessing Different Mechanisms to Face Possible Investor-State Disputes from COVID-19 Related Measures (Webinar Series on Development and COVID-19), 30 July 2020
Developing and least developed countries (LDCs), particularly in Africa, are especially vulnerable to the unfolding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to UNCTAD, foreign direct investment flows will drop drastically up to 40% during 2020-2021. A number of developed and developing countries, including LDCs, have introduced a number of measures aimed at limiting the effects of the pandemic, protecting domestic industries for strategic sectors (e.g. health industry, energy sector, telecommunication, food production, etc.), and safeguarding the real economy, particularly by offering bonds or bailouts for companies and the public in general.
Law firms and risk managers are already advising foreign investors about the possibility of initiating investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) claims against host States on the grounds of the alleged breach of their investors’ rights, based on provisions such as : (i) full protection and security; (ii) fair and equitable treatment; (iii) national treatment and most-favoured nation treatment; and (iv) unlawful expropriation.
The webinar is designed as an open space to foster dialogue and share views among developing countries and other strategic partners for identifying and assessing the different mechanisms for States to face these challenges at the multilateral, regional and domestic level. With several calls being made for establishing a multilateral ISDS moratorium during the COVID-19 crisis and response, the webinar will consider these options and other possible regional and domestic responses based on the principles of dispute prevention. This webinar is part of a webinar series being organized by the South Centre with the objective of gathering experts, policy-makers, government officials, practitioners and other stakeholders to discuss the different measures adopted by States to tackle the different challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic in their efforts to achieve and sustain the progress towards sustainable development in developing countries.
Meeting on Waiver to Certain Provisions of the WTO TRIPS Agreement to Support Effective COVID-19 Response, 9 November 2020
Discussion and clarification on the proposal under consideration by WTO TRIPS Council for a temporary waiver to certain TRIPS Agreement provisions.
Fair and Equitable Pricing in Health: Competition Law and Access to Medicines, Webinar on 3-4 December 2020
Access to Covid-19 Vaccines, Medicines and Diagnostics: Voluntary and Compulsory Licenses, TRIPS Waiver, Public Webinar, 7 December 2020
Join a discussion on intellectual property voluntary licenses, compulsory licenses and the proposal for a TRIPS waiver to waive obligations to mitigate the limitations of the current mechanisms to support universal access to COVID-19 medicines, vaccines and diagnostics.
Organized by the South Centre and Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign
South Centre Series on Manufacturing Capacity for Covid-19 Vaccines: The Experience of Butantan-Sinovac, 23 March 2021
Webinar to discuss R&D, clinical trials and technology transfer in the experience of Institute Butantan, São Paulo, with Sinovac Life Sciences, Beijing, for the Coronavac Covid-19 vaccine.
Ensuring a Sustainable and Resilient Response to COVID-19 and Emerging Infectious Diseases through Local Production, United Nations High-Level Political Forum 2021 Side Event, 6 July 2021
This panel will discuss what it will take to ensure that regional innovation hubs and local producers pick up where, for example, 1st-generation vaccine manufacturers might leave off. Expert panelists will offer important stakeholder perspectives on opportunities to expand local production and harness pooled procurement, the challenges ahead and how they might be met.
Organized by South Centre, ReAct – Action on Antibiotic Resistance and Innovation + Design Enabling Access at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Working Session at the WTO Public Forum 2021: The Future of the TRIPS Agreement Post COVID-19, 29 September 2021
Disciplines on intellectual property protection are part of the multilateral trade system through the WTO TRIPS Agreement. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to bear again the tension between the protection of intellectual property rights and public health, which had been addressed in 2001 through the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public health. Having in view the TRIPS flexibilities, this session will discuss the role of interpretation, temporary waivers and amendments in dealing with such tension and what further actions could be taken under the WTO rules in order to promote access to medical products for all.
This article was tagged: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Pandemic