TRIPS Waiver

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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STATEMENT – MEETING OF NAM HEALTH MINISTERS ON 75TH WHA, 20 May 2022

STATEMENT BY CARLOS M. CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, TO THE MEETING OF THE NAM HEALTH MINISTERS ON THE OCCASION OF THE 75TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY, MAY 20, 2022

The South Centre has closely followed issues concerning access to medicines and the work of the WHO over the years. In the last couple of years, it has provided analyses and advice in connection with the COVID-19 crisis that has so severely affected the members of NAM.

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Policy Brief 110, 5 May 2022

Analysis of the Outcome Text of the Informal Quadrilateral Discussions on the TRIPS COVID-19 Waiver

By Carlos M. Correa and Nirmalya Syam

Almost one  and a half years after the proposal for a waiver of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement regarding health technologies for COVID-19 was proposed by India and South Africa with the support of the majority of WTO Members, the TRIPS Council has been unable to reach consensus on the proposed waiver or engage in text negotiations. In this context, the TRIPS Council agreed to suspend the discussions to allow the possibility of some solution to emerge from informal high-level consultations between the European Union, the United States of America, India and South Africa. Recently, the WTO Director-General transmitted the outcome of the informal consultations along with a draft text to the TRIPS Council. In this context, this policy brief analyzes the elements of the draft text that has been transmitted to the TRIPS Council. The proposed solution, which offers clarifications and limited waivers on some of the provisions governing compulsory licenses on patents relating to vaccines, reflects developed countries’ strong opposition to the broader waiver sought by the proponents to rapidly expand manufacturing capacity and the supply of health products needed to address the pandemic.

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Documento de Investigación 147, 28 de febrero de 2022

¿Podrán las negociaciones en la organización mundial de la salud resultar en un marco justo para la prevención, la preparación y la respuesta ante pandemias como bienes públicos globales?

Por Viviana Muñoz Tellez

Los Estados miembros de la OMS, tras haber acordado los objetivos de avanzar equidad y solidaridad para la futura prevención, preparación y respuesta a la pandemia, ahora deben ponerlos en práctica. Este documento avanza sugerencias para las discusiones en los procesos en curso de la OMS de 1) el examen de las recomendaciones que está revisando el Grupo de Trabajo sobre el Fortalecimiento de la Preparación y la Respuesta de la OMS a las Emergencias Sanitarias, 2) la consideración de posibles enmiendas al Reglamento Sanitario Internacional (RSI) de 2005, y 3) la elaboración de un proyecto de texto para un instrumento internacional sobre la preparación y la respuesta ante una pandemia.

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Document de Recherche 147, 28 février 2022

Les négociations au sein de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé peuvent-elles aboutir à un cadre juste pour la prévention, la préparation et la riposte aux pandémies en tant que bien public mondial?

Par Viviana Muñoz Tellez

Ce document avance que les États membres de l’OMS, ayant accepté de promouvoir des objectifs d’équité et de solidarité pour la prévention, la préparation et la riposte futures aux pandémies, doivent maintenant les mettre en œuvre. Le document propose des suggestions pour les processus en cours à l’OMS concernant : 1) l’examen des recommandations en cours de révision par le Groupe de travail sur le renforcement de la préparation et de la riposte de l’OMS aux urgences sanitaires, 2) l’examen des amendements potentiels au Règlement sanitaire international (RSI) 2005, et 3) l’élaboration d’un projet de texte pour un instrument international sur la préparation et la riposte aux pandémies.

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SouthViews No. 235, 10 March 2022

The WTO TRIPS Waiver and Essential Security Rights in 2022

By Dr. Alexander Beyleveld

Almost two years have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are still far from bringing the pandemic to an end. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that large vaccine inequities remain worldwide. In order to address this problem, a large subset of World Trade Organization (WTO) members are in favour of waiving certain obligations contained in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). Against this backdrop, this article contemplates the legal necessity of such a waiver given that Article 73 of the TRIPS Agreement contains essential security exceptions which may render the obligations in question inapplicable under the interpretation that the pandemic affects law and public order interests.

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Research Paper 147, 28 February 2022

Can Negotiations at the World Health Organization Lead to a Just Framework for the Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Pandemics as Global Public Goods?

By Viviana Muñoz Tellez

This paper advances that WHO Member States, having agreed to the objectives of advancing equity and solidarity for future pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, now must operationalize these. The paper offers suggestions for the ongoing WHO processes of: 1) review of recommendations under examination by the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies, 2) consideration of potential amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, and 3) elaboration of a draft text for an international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response.

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PIJIP Event, 4 February 2022

The Impact of a TRIPS COVID Waiver on Trade and Investment Agreements

Program on Intellectual Justice and Intellectual Property, American University Washington College of Law event

February 4, 2022, 10am EST/3pm GMT

Co-Sponsored by the American Branch of the International Law Association and the South Centre

The event will feature a presentation of a South Centre Research Paper by Federica Paddeu and Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan, followed by a round table discussion with international law experts. The Seminar is scheduled for 90 minutes in a public and recorded session, followed by a 30 minute off-camera virtual reception held under Chatham House Rule.

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Research Paper 144, 27 January 2022

A TRIPS-COVID Waiver and Overlapping Commitments to Protect Intellectual Property Rights Under International IP and Investment Agreements

by Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan and Federica Paddeu

This paper considers legal implications that are likely to emerge from the implementation of a TRIPS Waiver decision. Assuming that a Waiver is adopted in the form presented in the May 2021 proposal by South Africa and India et al, we review the interaction between the Waiver and other commitments to protect IP rights under international IP and investment treaties. Our principal research question is to analyze whether domestic measures implementing the Waiver are compatible with the implementing State’s other obligations to protect IP rights established under multilateral IP treaties, IP and Investment Chapters of FTAs as well as BITs. In light of typical examples for such overlapping commitments, we first focus on (1) defences directly affecting compatibility with these treaty commitments (here referred to as ‘internal’ defences). In a second part, we review (2) potential defences under general international law that may serve to justify (in other words, to preclude the wrongfulness of) such measures. We conclude that often internal and/or general defences will operate to support the implementation of the Waiver despite overlapping commitments in international IP and investment law. This conclusion is reinforced by a purpose-oriented understanding of the TRIPS Waiver as authorizing measures necessary to achieve the goal of “unimpeded, timely and secure access” for all to covered medical technologies “for the prevention, treatment or containment of COVID-19”.

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Investment Policy Brief No. 24, 9 December 2021

Potential Claims related to IP and Public Health in Investment Agreements: COVID-19, the Proposed TRIPS Waiver and Beyond

By Cynthia Ho

An under-examined issue during the COVID-19 crisis is the potential liability of countries under investment agreements for taking steps to mitigate COVID issues.  This Policy Brief provides an overview of how countries may be liable to companies for taking domestic action to protect public health, including pre-COVID claims related to Intellectual Property (IP), as well as possible claims because of COVID emergency measures, including claims that could result if the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Waiver was adopted.  The current COVID-19 crisis opens the opportunity to consider and reevaluate the unnecessary threat of international agreements that allow for investment claims and potentially consider their termination.

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