This Policy Brief discusses issues concerning trade, intellectual property, and technology transfer that are most relevant for consideration at the 13th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024 and inclusion in its outcomes.
The following recommendations are proposed:
TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints: MC13 Decision on the scope and modalities of non-violation and situation complaints under the Agreement on Trade related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). A second option is to extend the moratorium.
TRIPS, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19: MC13 Decision that extends the MC12 TRIPS waiver Decision (only applicable to vaccines) to diagnostics and therapeutics
Relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity: to be addressed in the MC13 Outcome Document
Follow up to the MC12 Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics: to be addressed in the MC13 Outcome Document
Relationship of trade and technology transfer: include in the MC13 Outcome Document to reinvigorate and give direction to the Working Group on Trade and Technology Transfer (WGTTT) and increase attention in all relevant bodies on how the WTO can promote technology transfer
The Intersection Between Intellectual Property, Public Health and Access to Climate-Related Technologies
By Lívia Regina Batista
On the 20th anniversary of the Doha Declaration on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and Public Health adopted by the World Trade Organization, we realize that its impact is beyond issues of public health stricto sensu. The Doha Declaration has inspired discussions at the Council for TRIPS regarding access to climate-related technologies. Climate change is the main and most globalized environmental problem with adverse effects on public health, especially for the vulnerable communities in the Global-South. The main argument of the proponents of the discussion in the TRIPS Council is the need to rebalance public interests (such as public health and environmental/climate issues) with the private/economic interests of the most powerful countries and corporations. This debate addresses both the recognition of intellectual property rights as an important means for the promotion of technological innovation, and the required wider dissemination of technologies – be they medicines or climate-related technologies. This research paper explores the possibilities that the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration create for international transfer of climate-related technologies. Even though such discussions on climate-related technologies have initially failed in linking climate change and public health, as well as the rhetoric of human rights, the relevance of the topic remains. Besides that, the response to public health issues also must learn from the experience in climate change, such as the case studies evidencing the insufficiency and inefficiency of fast-tracking programs to provide for a wider dissemination of technologies – which have now been widely replicated to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Such comparison can also be an entrance point to discuss the public health implications for the international regime on climate change, highlighting that such issues are deeply intertwined, and need to be addressed jointly as well.
THE WORLD EXPECTS COP28 TO AGREE ON CONCRETE CLIMATE ACTION
COP28 has raised expectations around the world that concrete actions will be taken to address the climate crisis, which is having devastating effects notably in developing countries. Read our statement:
South Centre Statement to the 64th WIPO General Assembly (2023)
The South Centre, the intergovernmental organization of developing countries, actively promotes balancing public and private interests in the IP system. In accordance with the mandate of the 2007 Development Agenda (DA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which WIPO as a UN specialized agency must contribute to, development, sustainability and human rights should be at the core of WIPO’s activities. WIPO should remain a Member State-driven, development-oriented organization.
The South Centre remains available to all developing countries’ delegations to provide further information and support on these matters, during and after the Assemblies.
South Centre Statement to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministerial Meeting
July 5-6, 2023
The South Centre supports developing countries with policy-oriented research, advice on international negotiations and capacity building. Since its inception, the South Centre has maintained a close relationship with NAM. We are strong supporters of its principles, appreciate its achievements, and believe in the central role that NAM can play in reforming the multilateral system.
The South Centre will continue to work with NAM and its member countries to support them in their efforts to shape a fairer multilateral system that is responsive to the needs of the Global South.
Summary of the intervention by Carlos Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre,at the UN General Assembly – Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response Multi-Stakeholder Hearing, New York, May 9th, 2023
The response to COVID-19 revealed serious shortcomings in the multilateral system. Despite solemn declarations, it was unable to ensure equity in addressing its health, economic and social impacts. See a summary of the South Centre’s intervention at the UN General Assembly – Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response Multi-Stakeholder Hearing below.
Submission by the South Centre to the USITC hearing on Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics
India, South Africa and co-sponsors made a proposal for a waiver to certain provisions of the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in March 2020. In June 2022, the WTO Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement provided a partial waiver to obligations in Article 31, namely an exception to the 31.f export restrictions, in relation to patents for Covid-19 vaccines. No decision has yet been made with respect to diagnostics and therapeutics for Covid-19.
In this context, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) requested the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to prepare a report on Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.
Read below the submission by the South Centre to the USITC investigation: COVID-19 Diagnostics and Therapeutics: Supply, Demand, and TRIPS Agreement Flexibilities (Inv. No. 332-596).
Análisis de las intersecciones entre cambio climático y derechos humanos
Por Daniel Uribe Terán y Luis Fernando Rosales
Los efectos del cambio climático en la vida diaria de las personas amenazan el pleno disfrute de los derechos humanos. El Consejo de Derechos Humanos ha adoptado dos resoluciones históricas en las que se reconoce por un lado el derecho humano a un medio ambiente limpio, saludable y sostenible (Resolución 48/13), y se establece por otro el mandato de un Relator Especial sobre la promoción y la protección de los derechos humanos en el contexto del cambio climático (Resolución 48/14). Aun así, parece existir la necesidad de que la CMNUCC y la estructura de derechos humanos de las Naciones Unidas mantengan un diálogo más amplio a fin de dar con una respuesta coordinada y coherente al cambio climático y sus efectos sobre los derechos humanos.
En este documento de investigación se analizan las intersecciones de estos dos sistemas jurídicos. Para ello, se identifica el modo en que las negociaciones relativas al cambio climático y la estructura de derechos humanos pueden contribuir a fortalecer la cooperación internacional. También se reconoce la necesidad de un debate internacional de mayor calado acerca de las relaciones entre los derechos humanos y el cambio climático, coherente con los principios de equidad y las responsabilidades comunes pero diferenciadas del CMNUCC.
Analyse des Intersections entre le Changement Climatique et les Droits de l’Homme
Par Daniel Uribe Teran et Luis Fernando Rosales
Les effets du réchauffement climatique sur la vie quotidienne des êtres humains menacent la pleine jouissance de leurs droits. Le Conseil des droits de l’homme a adopté deux résolutions d’une portée historique, qui reconnaissent le droit de l’homme à un environnement propre, sain et durable (résolution 48/13), et nomment un rapporteur spécial chargé de la promotion et de la protection des droits de l’homme dans le contexte du changement climatique (résolution 48/14). Toutefois, un dialogue plus large entre la Convention-cadre des Nations unies sur les changements climatiques (CCNUCC) et l’architecture de protection des droits de l’homme de l’ONU semble nécessaire en vue de parvenir à une réponse coordonnée et cohérente au réchauffement climatique et à ses effets sur les droits de l’homme.
Le présent document de recherche analyse les points de convergence entre ces deux mécanismes en mettant en avant de quelle manière les négociations sur le réchauffement climatique et l’architecture de protection des droits de l’homme peuvent contribuer à renforcer la coopération internationale. Il reconnaît également la nécessité de discussions plus approfondies au niveau international sur les liens entre droits de l’homme et réchauffement climatique, conformément aux principes d’équité et de responsabilités communes mais différenciées inclus dans la CCNUCC.
27th CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES (COP27) OF THE UNFCCC
STATEMENT OF DR. CARLOS CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE
We all are aware of the magnitude of the climate crisis the world is facing. We are also aware that its impact is not the same for all countries and populations. The disasters we are witnessing affect most severely developing countries which historically have not been responsible for the emissions that put at risk the life in the planet. Those countries, the most affected, have the lowest capacity to address the devastating effects of climate change events and to adapt to and mitigate them.
Climate change is a cross-cutting issue. However, the international system operates in silos and has been incapable of ensuring the adoption of the multiple and coordinated policies necessary to address it. The South Centre, as an intergovernmental organization of developing countries, attaches particular importance to and focuses its work on the intersection of climate change policies with other policy frameworks.
International Clean Technology Diffusion: Pathways and Prospects
By Wenting Cheng
International clean technology diffusion is essential to mitigate and adapt to climate change, while fast and optimal diffusion can be prevented by the paywall of patents. This article examines three pathways to foster international clean technology diffusion: through restriction of intellectual property, including imposing external restraints in environmental law; striking an internal balance in maximizing TRIPS flexibilities; and keeping the status quo. It finds that the first two treaty-based pathways may not work, and an operable pathway to promote clean technology diffusion is to maximize and consolidate TRIPS flexibilities in national laws. This option challenges the popular proposal of a “Doha-like” declaration on TRIPS and climate change due to the paralysed multilateral trade mechanism, asymmetrical negotiation power of developing countries, prolonged negotiation process, and categorization problem in treaty negotiations.
Technology Transfer and Climate Change: A developing country perspective
By Nicolás M. Perrone
The role of technology transfer in climate change negotiations is vital. If technology is to help us mitigate and adapt to climate change, the international community needs to ensure sufficient innovation and technology transfer. One of the main challenges of the technology transfer regime for environmentally sound technologies is that a private and market-led model may not meet global technology transfer needs. This policy brief suggests that governments should explore market, hybrid and non-market approaches to accelerate the transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Developing countries’ governments should also explore cooperative approaches to improve their bargaining power, reduce costs and ensure adaptation and innovation capacity in the developing world.