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.
Contribution of the South Centre to the Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/74/7 dated 12 November 2019 on the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”
The imposition of unilateral economic, financial and trade measures against Cuba, in violation of basic principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter, has severe socio-economic impacts on the Cuban population. The UN General Assembly adopted by an overwhelming majority the resolution “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” (document A/74/L.6). In response to the request in paragraph 4 of this resolution, the South Centre prepared a contribution to the report of the Secretary-General. This highlights, in particular, the obstacles that the US embargo poses for the attainment of the right to health in Cuba.
Political Declaration on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women
Ministers and representatives of governments of the Member States of the United Nations met at a special one-day session of the 64th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) and adopted a Political Declaration commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, and its major seminal output, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BD & BPfA).
Third Annual Developing Country Forum on South-South Cooperation in International Tax Matters (Report)
The South Centre organized, in cooperation with the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Finance of India, the Third Annual Developing Country Forum on South-South Cooperation in International Tax Matters (the Forum). The Forum is an activity of the South Centre Tax Initiative (SCTI) which serves as a platform owned by developing countries to facilitate the networking and access to their officials to technical and academic resources, as well as to provide a venue for discussion among developing countries to identify collective efforts towards their participation in international tax fora and negotiations on matters of global economic governance. Discussions during the forum addressed the most relevant tax issues that may impact developing countries currently being discussed at the international level, especially in the OECD. The Forum also allowed the exchange of expertise among developing countries coming from Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa, which consolidated this space as a necessary mechanism to identify coordinated positions among developing countries towards the consolidation of a network of tax officials from developing countries and strengthening their voice in the international fora.