United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

South Centre Contribution – UNCTAD eCommerce Week 2022

DATA FOR DEVELOPMENT: HOW TO LEGALLY CHARACTERIZE DATA?

SOUTH CENTRE’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE eTRADE FOR ALL LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE OF THE UNCTAD eCOMMERCE WEEK 2022

Radical technological changes have always challenged pre-existing legal frameworks as demonstrated, for instance, by the commercialization of computer software independently from hardware and the use of genetic information to develop biotechnological innovations in various areas such as health and agriculture. The emergence of big data is a new and outstanding example of such situations. With the growing digitalization of multiple activities, ranging from education and health to ‘smart farming’ and the supply of the most diverse goods, the production and storage of data have exploded. Individuals, businesses and governments are generating an immense amount of data and this will only continue to grow in the future. Yet, the legal characterization of data is still a matter of considerable divergencies and debate. Policy makers and scholars are still searching for legal approaches suitable to address the complex relationships among producers, processors, controllers and users of data…

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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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Research Paper 137, October 2021

The Ocean Economy: trends, impacts and opportunities for a post COVID-19 Blue Recovery in developing countries

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.

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SouthViews No. 223, 14 July 2021

Financial integrity for sustainable development: Importance of developing country joint action on tax, corruption and money-laundering 

By Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki

Countries are beginning to realize that the landmark agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals will be unrealized if financing is not found for the agenda. Much of that financing can be found if illicit financial flows are stopped. In March 2020, the Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly and Economic and Social Council convened a High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel) to review global cooperation and recommend further actions by the international community as a contribution. Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, the Co-Chair of the FACTI Panel, outlines the measures that the FACTI Panel recommended to combat tax abuse, corruption and money-laundering. He emphasizes the importance of developing countries taking a leading role in proposing solutions, and the value of inclusive international institutions. The text below is based on remarks that were made at a briefing to the Group of 77 and China in Geneva in April 2021, jointly organized by the FACTI Panel Secretariat and the South Centre. The Panel’s full report can be read at: http://www.factipanel.org/report.

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Investment Policy Brief 22, June 2021

Investment Policy Options for Facing COVID-19 Related ISDS Claims

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.

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Documento de Investigación 118, Junio 2021

Repensando la fabricación mundial y local de productos médicos tras el COVID-19  

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. 

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Investment Policy Brief 21, April 2021

Could COVID-19 trigger ‘localizing’ of international investment arbitration?

By Danish

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.

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SC/IsDB joint publication on National Strategies for SSTrC, April 2021

Policy Paper on National Strategies for South-South and Triangular Cooperation

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.

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Policy Brief 89, March 2021

Competition Regulation in Healthcare in South Africa

By Hardin Ratshisusu

South Africa’s nascent competition regulatory regime is coming of age and has potential to address historical market concentration challenges previously enabled by the apartheid regime, prior to its dismantling in the 1990s. Many sectors of the economy are highly concentrated, including the private healthcare sector, with market outcomes that breed market failures, lack of competitiveness and high cost of care. Looking through competition in the healthcare sector it becomes evident that the market structure challenges do not only require domestic interventions, but also a global response to address some policy and regulatory gaps.

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Policy Brief 88, March 2021

Need for Extension of the LDC Transition Period Under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement Until Graduation and Beyond

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.

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