Human Rights Council
The UN General Assembly Resolutions on COVID-19: Solemn Assurances for Access to Health Technologies without an Action Plan
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.
The post-Covid world needs a new social contract
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.
The Core Elements of a Legally Binding Instrument: Highlights of the Revised Draft of the Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights
By Daniel Uribe Terán
Discussions towards the adoption of a legally binding instrument on business and human rights have reached its fifth year. The Chairperson-rapporteur submitted the Revised Draft of the legally binding instrument on 16 July 2019, having in view the comments and proposals received until the end of February 2019. The present policy brief reviews the core elements of the legally binding instrument as they are proposed in the revised draft, with the aim to provide analytical support to States’ delegations and other stakeholders during the negotiations on the binding instrument. This brief examines a number of issues, concerns and legal aspects that have been addressed during the previous sessions of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIGWG) on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights and how they have evolved going towards the 5th Session of the OEIGWG.
Enhancing Access to Remedy through International Cooperation: Considerations from the Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises
The shortcomings in international cooperation between regulatory authorities in different countries can open up a gap in their legal regimes which could be exploited by transnational corporations and allow them to elude responsibilities for the violation or abuse of human rights. The Revised Draft of the Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises seeks to bridge this gap and works towards increasing collaboration among countries for ensuring access to effective remedies for victims of human rights violations or abuses due to business activities. This brief looks at some of its salient features and how they can be utilized by countries for the protection and promotion of human rights in their territories.
Developing Country Coalitions in Multilateral Negotiations: Addressing Key Issues and Priorities of the Global South Agenda
By Adriano José Timossi
The recent increasing and unprecedented attacks on multilateralism and its institutions as well as the growing dangers of weakening international cooperation are regrettably leading to an enormous setback in the history of the international system. These developments could reverse decades of collective efforts to establish a more stable, equitable and inclusive path of development and social justice for all. An immediate impact is that international negotiations, which have increasingly become important for developing countries over the past decades, are now becoming even more complex. If the resurging path of unilateralism and protectionism adopted by some powerful countries is maintained, the risks of further deterioration grow even larger. The instabilities of the contemporary world pose serious risks to the achievement of the longstanding development goals of the Global South such as poverty eradication, the South’s ability to successfully address emerging challenges such as climate change, and to overall global stability, a pattern not seen since the Second World War. In this context, developing countries’ negotiating coalitions such as the Group of 77 (G77) + China and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), while respecting and adapting to the differences that might emerge within these large groups, need to remain together and ensure that their coalitions are preserved and strengthened. Working collectively will improve negotiating capacity and leverage and increase bargaining power of developing countries in the multilateral negotiations in order to get more balanced outcomes.
Inequality is one of the greatest challenges that the world needs to face. Inequality is intimately linked with poverty. Although there has been progress in reducing poverty, a large part of the global population (overwhelmingly living in developing countries) is still denied access to a dignified life. While no poverty and reduced inequality are two of the outstanding Sustainable Development Goals, these and other goals are unlikely to be achieved by 2030. In fact, inequality is on the rise. Changing this situation will certainly require significant efforts at the national and regional level. But it also requires an international architecture that supports those efforts by respecting the policy space that countries need and coordinating constructive actions within the multilateral system. The current initiatives to ‘reform’ this system will only be legitimate if they recognize the gaps in the levels of development and contribute to effectively address them under a fair, pro-development system of rules. Please see last month’s SouthViews on “Understanding global inequality in the 21st century” by Jayati Ghosh, development economist and Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Setting the pillars to enforce corporate human rights obligations stemming from international law
By Daniel Uribe
The release of the Zero Draft of the Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, in International Human Rights Law, the Activities of Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises by the Chairperson of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Business and Human Rights (OEIGWG), is likely to revive discussions on the recognition of corporate entities as subjects of international law. The present brief examines corporate entities’ human rights obligations in the context of the Zero Draft, taking into account the views and comments presented during the first three sessions of the OEIGWG and the need to advance the discussion on those entities’ obligations under international law.
Advancing international cooperation in the service of victims of human rights violations in the context of business activities
By Kinda Mohamadieh
A zero draft of a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, is the subject of discussions in an inter-governmental open ended working group under the auspices of the Human Rights Council (15-19 October 2018). The draft aims at harnessing international cooperation among home and host states of business enterprises in order to address barriers to get remedies to victims of human rights violations in the context of business activities of transnational character. This brief discusses the approach to States’ role and obligations as proposed under the zero draft.
The IP Negotiations Monitor summarizes the latest developments in multilateral and regional fora where intellectual property negotiations are taking place, and informs on upcoming meetings and events.
(Covering period: January – March 2018)
Intellectual Property, Public Health and Access to Medicines in International Organizations
This South Centre research paper by Dr. German Velasquez describes and analyses the mandate, programmes, strategies, and activities that different international organizations such as WHO, WTO, WIPO, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNAIDS, the UN Human Rights Council, and the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel (UNHLP) on access to medicines have undertaken on the subject of access to medicines, intellectual property, international trade rules and human rights.