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SouthViews No. 241, 12 September 2022

The South’s Role and Responsibilities in the Next Phase of Multilateralism

By Elizabeth Sidiropoulos and Luanda Mpungose

The global erosion of trust in the global institutions is the direct result of non-delivery on the most crucial challenges that face humanity such as inequality, poverty, and climate change. South-South Cooperation can play a vital role in reinvigorating multilateralism. Beyond its horizontal engagements it has already begun supporting and enriching processes, institutions and norms-building at the global level. However, changing the superstructures that have discriminated against many developing countries will require a strategy that involves prioritising, coalition-building and coordination.

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Research Paper 143, 11 January 2022

Brazilian Competition Law and Access to Health in Brazil: Exploitative Pricing in the Pharmaceutical Sector

By Bruno Braz de Castro

This paper aims to analyze the interfaces between Brazilian Competition Law and the issue of access to medicines, with a special focus on abuse of industrial property rights and related exclusionary and exploitative effects. The paper analyzes the case law of Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) in the pharmaceutical sector and discusses abusive practices such as illegitimately imposing non-existent or invalid intellectual property rights with anticompetitive purposes. It then addresses abusive strategies in the exercise of industrial property rights which are, in essence, valid: i.e., exclusionary practices, aimed at artificially raising barriers to entry; and exploitative practices, directly translated as the exercise of market power to the detriment of the consumer. The latter ultimately result in exploitative excessive prices; contractual, quality or privacy degradation; and restrictions on supply, such as by hoarding/preventing the exploitation of industrial property rights. The paper concludes that the prohibition of exploitative pricing under the current competition law is legally valid and effective, with certain methodological concerns towards reducing the risk of wrongful convictions (for instance, by applying screening tests to determine the markets that are candidates for intervention). In view of such guidelines, the pharmaceutical industry appears to be an important candidate for antitrust attention, given the magnitude of the harm potentially derived from non-intervention against the practice. Remedies in this area, importantly, should focus on identifying and solving the sector’s structural competitive problems. In the case of medicines subject to price regulation by the Drug Market Regulation Chamber (CMED), the technical expertise of the competition authority may be of great value in terms of competition advocacy, a fact that is demonstrated in light of recent discussions on extraordinary price adjustments because of competitive problems in certain markets.

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Research Paper 163, 19 August 2022

The Human Right to Science: From Fragmentation to Comprehensive Implementation?

By Peter Bille Larsen and Marjorie Pamintuan

In times when the role of science in society is more debated than ever in polarized, politicized and partial terms, what is the role for the human right to science and rights-based approaches? The right to science remains poorly understood and neglected in both national and global human rights processes. Beyond defending the freedom of scientific expression, upholding the right to science is arguably fundamental to resolving key sustainability challenges of our times from climate change and the biodiversity crisis to global health and pandemics. The global COVID-19 pandemic has revealed persistent global inequalities not least in terms of how the privatization of science and current intellectual property regimes hinder just and equitable responses to access science and its benefits. This prompts the need for a shift from single-issue approaches to comprehensive and systematic treatment of the right to science as a bundle of human rights across multiple arenas to counter fragmentation and silo-tendencies.

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SC Statement to the WIPO Assemblies, 18 July 2022

Statement by the South Centre to the 2022 Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO

The South Centre is the intergovernmental organization of developing countries based in Geneva that supports developing countries’ efforts to build up a fair and inclusive multilateral system conducive to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are of the view that a central objective of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as part of the United Nations (UN) UN system should be to support the achievement of such goals through the promotion of a balanced international intellectual property (IP) system that reflects the interests of countries at different levels of economic and technological development, and in line with the WIPO Development Agenda.

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Informe Sobre Políticas 108, 25 de marzo de 2022

La incorporación de la equidad en el Reglamento Sanitario Internacional y en futuros instrumentos jurídicos de la OMS sobre preparación y respuesta frente a pandemias

Por Nirmalya Syam

Los Estados miembros de la OMS están a punto de iniciar las negociaciones más importantes que podrían establecer el paradigma de las obligaciones jurídicas internacionales en materia de preparación y respuesta a futuras pandemias. Estas negociaciones se centran en las enmiendas al Reglamento Sanitario Internacional (2005) (RSI), así como en la negociación de un tratado u otro instrumento jurídico en el marco de la Constitución de la OMS que complemente el RSI para garantizar una mejor preparación y respuesta ante futuras pandemias, basándose en las experiencias de la actual pandemia de COVID-19. La consideración más crítica para los países en desarrollo en estas negociaciones será la integración de las preocupaciones de equidad, actualmente ausentes de las normas y mecanismos existentes a nivel mundial para permitir a los países en desarrollo prevenir y responder eficazmente a un brote pandémico. En este contexto, este informe sugiere algunos elementos de equidad que deberían perseguirse a través de propuestas textuales específicas de los países en desarrollo mediante enmiendas al RSI.

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Rapport sur les politiques 108, 25 mars 2022

L’intégration de l’équité dans le Règlement sanitaire international et les futurs instruments juridiques de l’OMS sur la préparation et la riposte aux pandémies

Par Nirmalya Syam

Les États membres de l’OMS sont sur le point d’entamer les négociations les plus importantes qui pourraient définir le paradigme des obligations juridiques internationales en matière de préparation et de riposte aux futures pandémies. Ces négociations portent sur les amendements au Règlement sanitaire international (2005) (RSI) ainsi que sur la négociation d’un traité ou d’un autre instrument juridique dans le cadre de la Constitution de l’OMS qui complétera le RSI afin d’assurer une meilleure préparation et une meilleure riposte aux futures pandémies, en tirant parti de l’expérience de la pandémie actuelle de COVID-19. La considération la plus critique pour les pays en développement dans ces négociations sera l’intégration des préoccupations d’équité, actuellement absentes des règles et des instruments existants disponibles au niveau mondial pour permettre aux pays en développement de prévenir et de répondre efficacement à une pandémie. Dans ce contexte, ce document suggère quelques éléments d’équité qui devraient être poursuivis par des propositions textuelles spécifiques des pays en développement par le biais des amendements au RSI.

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Comments on Draft Annotated Outline of WHO Convention, Agreement or Other International Instrument on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness & Response, 24 June 2022

South Centre Comments on the Draft Annotated Outline of a WHO Convention, Agreement or Other International Instrument on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response

24 June 2022

The South Centre welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on the draft annotated outline of a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Comments are provided with respect to the process and the content.

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SC Statement – TRIPS waiver, 21 June 2022

TRIPS WAIVER: AN INSUFFICIENT MULTILATERAL RESPONSE. TRIPS-CONSISTENT NATIONAL ACTIONS ARE CALLED FOR

After almost 20 months from the submission of a “TRIPS waiver” request by India and South Africa, co-sponsored by 65 WTO member States (and supported by more than 100 WTO Members), a “Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement” (WT/MIN(22)/W/15/Rev.2) (‘the Decision’) was belatedly adopted by the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization on 17 June 2022.

This Decision does recognize that, as argued by developing countries and a large number of organizations and academics, intellectual property (IP) poses obstacles for the expansion of manufacturing capacity and timely access to health products and technologies to respond to COVID-19. The response to the pandemic required a rapid increase in the supply of countermeasures, while technology holders refused to share their technologies.

Not only developed countries successfully deviated the negotiations towards an outcome different from what was pursued by developing countries’ diplomats; the process for its adoption did not allow for the full and informed participation of the latter. The process leading to the Decision confirms the need to fully use the TRIPS flexibilities to address emergency and other situations where public health and other public interests are at stake, and to review the current international IP regime (including article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement) to accelerate the sharing of technology, including know-how.

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SouthViews No. 238, 20 June 2022

Doha Twenty Years On – Has The Promise Been Betrayed?

By Yousuf Vawda and Bonginkosi Shozi

The Doha Declaration’s twentieth anniversary in November 2021 has taken place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The experience of the past two years has demonstrated that the very factors that necessitated the Declaration—the problems of inequitable access to medicines and other health technologies for the world’s poor—continue to plague us.

Has the promise of the Doha Declaration been betrayed? In this contribution, we critically engage with this question, focusing our appraisal on whether the Doha Declaration has been successful in fulfilling its commitments to: (a) advancing access to health; (b) equity and fairness in the relations between WTO Members States; and (c) recognising perspectives from the developing world in formulating IP policy. Ultimately, we conclude that the promise of the Doha Declaration has failed to materialise.

There are many reasons for this. For instance, developed country governments have intentionally undermined the Declaration by their insistence on inserting more onerous TRIPS-plus provisions in free trade agreements and economic partnership agreements, which decimate the limited flexibilities permitted by the TRIPS Agreement. And where countries have sought to use such flexibilities, they have been assailed by an over-litigious pharmaceutical industry, and threats by governments such as the US 301 Watch List. For these reasons, we argue for the need for alternative paradigms to challenge Western hegemony and norms regarding IP and other trade-related issues, and for effectively challenging this through the application of a “decoloniality” approach.

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Research Paper 158, 15 June 2022

Twenty Years After Doha: An Analysis of the Use of the TRIPS Agreement’s Public Health Flexibilities in India

By Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD  

The World Trade Organization (WTO) linked intellectual property protection with trade. The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), however, included a number of public health flexibilities in order to provide latitude to the Member States to tailor their national patent laws to fit their individual needs. In 2001, the Doha Declaration further clarified and reaffirmed the existing TRIPS flexibilities. This paper argues that India has taken the lead role in enacting the TRIPS Agreement’s substantive and procedural patent flexibilities by introducing unique legislative measures to deal with the problem of access to medicines. This article evaluates India’s use of section 3(d) as a subject matter exclusivity provision. It examines constitutional validity and TRIPS compliance of section 3(d). It also evaluates India’s use of the flexibility to define the term “inventive step”. Moreover, this article evaluates India’s use of compulsory licensing, the most notable exception to patent rights provided under the TRIPS Agreement. This empirical study is important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has once again highlighted the same public health issues that the Doha Declaration sought to address twenty years ago.

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Research Paper 157, 3 June 2022

WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions: How much tariff revenue have developing countries lost?

By Rashmi Banga

This research paper highlights the adverse impacts of the continuing WTO moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions on the developing and least developed countries. The rapidly progressing digitalization along with the ongoing pandemic and the food crisis are creating multiple demands on the government revenues. However, because of the moratorium almost all developing, and least developed countries are losing tariff revenues especially at the time when they are most needed. Not only are they losing the fiscal space but are also losing their regulatory space as they are unable to regulate the growing imports of digitizable products, especially of luxury items like the movies, music and video games. It is estimated that in the period 2017-2020, developing countries and LDCs lost $56 billion of tariff revenue, of which $48 billion were lost by the developing countries and $8 billion by the least developed countries. It is interesting to note that this loss of tariff revenue is from the imports of just 49 products (at HS six-digit). With no clarity on the definition of electronic transmissions (ET) and thereby on the scope of the moratorium, the continuation of the WTO moratorium on customs duties on ET can lead to substantive tariff revenue losses for developing and least developed countries in the future.

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