Contribution of the South Centre to the Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution A/75/L.97 dated 9 June 2021 on the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”
This input by the South Centre is prepared in response to the UN Secretary-General’s request as a contribution to the report of the Secretary-General as per resolution A/75/L.97, with respect to the imposition of unilateral economic, financial and trade measures against Cuba, in violation of basic principles of the UN Charter.
Virtual Consultation in support of the UN Working Group’s 2021 Report to the UN General Assembly on Human Rights-Compatible International Investment Agreements
South Centre, 23 June 2021
Foreign direct investment (FDI) should support States’ efforts to “bring the SDGs and goals of the Paris Agreement to life for all people, everywhere.” However, achievement of these objectives is slowed down in the current situation where investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are included in international investment agreements (IIAs). These mechanisms have increased the exposure of States to claims from foreign investors against regulatory measures taken to protect and guarantee a clean and safe environment, public health, human rights, social inclusion, and poverty reduction.
In the current scenario marked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDI can be a valuable source of financing a better and fairer recovery, including investment needed to achieve the full realisation of all human rights. But to achieve this potential, there is a need to reshape the international investment regime, including through the reform of its substantive rules and standards, as well as of the ISDS mechanisms embedded in existing IIAs.
The South Centre and the United Nations Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises convened a virtual consultation to identify and assess the different challenges developing countries face while negotiating or reforming IIAs in line with their international human rights obligations. The virtual consultation aimed at highlighting and discussing some of the most common concerns and challenges those developing countries face in the promotion of responsible investment practices, including an exploratory discussion about balancing the rights and obligations of investors in IIAs and safeguarding the sovereign right of States to regulate in the public interest for building back better and fairer in face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also discussed possible reforms of the ISDS mechanism.
Vaccination inequalities and the role of the multilateral system
By Carlos M. Correa
The COVID-19 crisis has evidenced the fragility of the multilateral system to address a global health challenge. There are multiple reasons behind it. Since donations are not enough, a global solution to the pandemic would have required concerted actions in several fronts. The author suggests that, while examining how the proposed “pandemic treaty” might contribute to a global solution in future health emergencies, immediate actions are needed.
Statement by the South Centre on the extension of the transition period for LDCs under the TRIPS Agreement
The TRIPS Council decision to extend the TRIPS transition period for LDCs until 1 June 2034 confirms their right to an extension but it regrettably does not meet the scope and duration that the LDCs requested. Read our statement …
Submission to the Special Session of the General Assembly on Challenges and Measures to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Strengthen International Cooperation
South Centre, 28 May 2021
The South Centre submission to UNGASS2021 highlights the need for strong inter-institutional and cross-sectorial coordination and more effective and open government tools. The UNGASS2021 should support the implementation of the FACTI Panel recommendations as means to enhance States’ effort to combat corruption.
Financing for development from the perspective of the right to development
Summaries of two reports by Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development
In 2020, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to development, Saad Alfarargi, submitted two reports, one to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and the other to the UN General Assembly, on the issue of financing for development (FFD) from the perspective of the right to development (RTD). The first report (A/HRC/45/15) analyzed national-level FFD, while the second report (A/75/167) focused on the international dimension of FFD. In both reports the Special Rapporteur highlighted relevant challenges, with a particular focus on how to ensure the meaningful participation of rights-holders.
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.
The TRIPS waiver proposal: an urgent measure to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccines
by Henrique Zeferino de Menezes
Despite multilateral commitments and political statements of solidarity and cooperation to guarantee the availability and access to COVID-19 vaccines (and other relevant technologies for control and treatment), the scenario after the beginning of vaccination is marked by the deepening of vaccine nationalism, the concentration of inputs and vaccines production, and the uneven distribution of options of vaccine doses already approved for use. This pattern of production restrictions and unequal access will lead to an increase in international inequalities, leaving a large part of the world to have access to vaccines not until 2024. While advanced purchase agreements (APAs) among pharmaceutical companies and some developed countries are multiplying, the proposed mechanisms for voluntary licensing of technologies and the COVAX Facility do not achieve their goal of democratizing access to vaccines. In this sense, the current TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver proposal seems to be the political and institutional response with the greatest potential to guarantee the scaling of the production of pharmaceutical inputs, allowing the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to ensure timely, sufficient, and affordable access to all technologies developed to fight COVID-19.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas: One Step Forward in the Promotion of Human Rights for the Most Vulnerable
By Maria Natalia Pacheco Rodriguez and Luis Fernando Rosales Lozada
Peasants and other people living rural areas are among the most vulnerable in the world. In 2015, an estimated of 736 million people in the world lived in extreme poverty, of which 589 million – 80 per cent – live in rural areas. Despite increasing urbanization in the last decades, almost 45 per cent of the global population still lives in areas defined as rural, and most of them are among the poorest of the world. The situation is most likely worsening because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas by the supporting vote of a vast majority of countries. There are many reasons to consider the Declaration as one of the most relevant actions in the realm of human rights law taken by the United Nations in recent years. Some of them are the recognition of peasants as specific subjects of rights; the reaffirmation of existing standards tailored for the reality of people living in rural areas; and the development of international law to address existing gaps in the protection of their rights in complex subject matters such as the right to land, the right to seeds, and the right to means of production. In underscoring the importance of the Declaration for the world, this research paper narrates the process of construction of the Declaration, its contributions to international human rights law and stresses on its potential for poverty reduction and food security, in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the strategies of the UN Decade on Family Farming.
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.
Compilation of Extracts from Selected Country Statements during 73rd World Health Assembly supporting Access to Health Products on COVID-19
The compilation below was done on the basis of published statements on the WHO website (https://apps.who.int/gb/statements/WHA73/) and the speeches delivered orally for those delegations which have not submitted their statements. This is a non-official document for information only.
Comments to the FACTI Panel on improving cooperation in tax matters
The South Centre Tax Initiative (SCTI) would like to draw the attention of the Financial Accountability Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) Panel to the following aspects of improving international tax cooperation:
(1) legal procedure to upgrade the UN Tax Committee into an intergovernmental body;
(2) Right of even Inclusive Framework Members to take unilateral measures;
(3) Need for comprehensive scope of Pillar One;
(4) Primacy of Undertaxed Payments and Subject to Tax rules in Pillar Two;
(5) Need for clear and administrable rules for dispute prevention.