South Centre Semester Report, July – December 2021
The South Centre undertakes policy-oriented research on issues, as defined in its Work Program (https://www.southcentre.int/work-program/), that are relevant to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It supports the countries of the South to effectively participate in negotiating processes in order to build up a multilateral system that supports and does not undermine development efforts. It also provides policy and technical advice and capacity building in support of countries and institutions of the South. Catalogues of the publications of the Centre can be found at https://www.southcentre.int/publications-catalogues/.
The South Centre expands its reach and impact by leveraging cooperation with other international organizations, research institutions, academia and civil society.
This Semester Report is an account of how the South Centre’s Secretariat has fulfilled the Centre’s mission through the different workstreams for the period July – December 2021.
South Centre Statement to the WHO Executive Board 150th Session
The South Centre, the intergovernmental organization of 54 developing countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, considers that key outcomes from the work of the 150th Executive Board should include…
The considerable health, economic and social challenge that the world faced in early 2020 with COVID-19 continued and worsened in many parts of the world in the second half of 2020 and into 2021.
How can an agency like WHO be given a stronger voice to exercise authority and leadership?
This book is a collection of research papers produced by the author between 2020 and early 2021 that helps answer this question. The topics address the state of thinking and debate – particularly with regard to medicines and vaccines – that would enable a response to this pandemic or subsequent crises that may emerge.
This book presents the South Centre’s reflections and studies to provide policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders with information and analysis on issues related to public health and access to medicines and vaccines in the context of COVID-19.
Author: Germán Velásquez, Special Adviser for Policy and Health of the South Centre
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.
A New Treaty on Pandemics: Some Key Issues from a Global South Perspective
By Tamara Luciana Bustamante, Josefina del Rosario Lago, Mariana Magliolo, & Lucas Javier Segal, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Buenos Aires
In view of both the difficulty that negotiations on a possible new treaty will present for States of the Global South and their special needs, this paper aims to contribute by identifying and giving content to certain key issues —though not exhaustive— that should be taken into account by negotiators of a possible new treaty on pandemics or any other instrument on the subject in the future. The selected key issues are addressed through four cross-cutting questions: (i) Why is each issue relevant for the Global South, (ii) where it is currently regulated, (iii) what are the problems it entails, and (iv) how could a new instrument address them.
South Centre Statement to the Special Session of the WHA
This WHA is convening in special session with the promise of starting a process that could ultimately lead to saving millions of lives.
The most pressing priority is to get vaccines and other essential tools to the people that need them now, in all corners of the world. Redoubling efforts to help countries that are struggling the most to respond to the pandemic is an ethical imperative and would serve to contain the global spread of the virus and its new variants.
The Doha Ministerial Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health on its Twentieth Anniversary
By Nirmalya Syam, Viviana Munoz, Carlos M. Correa and Vitor Ido
This Policy Brief reviews the role of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health in the twenty years since its adoption. It finds that the Doha Declaration has contributed to advance the use of the TRIPS flexibilities to promote public health and should be considered an important subsequent agreement to the TRIPS Agreement, despite the continuing challenges for WTO members to implement the TRIPS flexibilities in full. This brief also analyses the extent to which the Paragraph 6 System that became an amendment of the TRIPS Agreement as a new article 31 bis, pursuant to the Doha Declaration, has facilitated access to medicines and vaccines for countries with none or insufficient pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. It finds that the system to date has not lived up to its promise. The Policy Brief recommends that WTO members assess and identify the challenges for the full use of the TRIPS flexibilities to promote public health, and advances that supplementary tools will need to be designed to never again allow such inequity in access to life saving vaccines and treatments as in the present COVID-19 pandemic.
Strengthening WHO for Future Health Emergencies while Battling COVID-19: Major Outcomes of the 2021 World Health Assembly
By Nirmalya Syam and Mirza Alas
The 74th World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) took place in May 2021 in a time when developing countries had to confront a substantial surge in COVID-19 infections and fatalities, while continuing to face inadequate access to vaccines. Meanwhile, the majority of the global supplies were secured by a few rich countries, ignoring the pleas of the WHO Secretariat. However, even though discussions around the COVID-19 response and strengthening emergency preparedness and response dominated the Assembly, WHO Member States could not achieve any concrete outcome to addressing the question of equitable access to vaccines and other health technologies for COVID-19. In this context, this policy brief describes some of the major outcomes of the Assembly.
Del SIDA al COVID-19: La OMS ante las crisis sanitarias globales
Por Germán Velásquez
Este documento de investigación es una compilación de artículos de Germán Velásquez publicados por el “Monde Diplomatique” (ediciones francesa y española) entre el 2003 y el 2021. El autor analiza como la OMS enfrentó las grandes crisis sanitarias de los últimos 20 años. El SIDA y la llegada de los primeros antiretrovirales, la gripe H1N1 con el despilfarro del Oseltamivir (nombre de marca “Tamiflu”) y las vacunas que al final fueron destruidas en grandes cantidades, el ébola donde la OMS llegó con cuatro meses de atraso, la hepatitis C y los fármacos que podrían curarla pero fueron lanzados al mercado con precios inaccesibles y, actualmente, la pandemia devastadora del COVID-19 que ha demostrado una vez más la insoportable desigualdad en el acceso a la salud y a las vacunas y tratamientos, entre los países del Norte y los países del Sur.
El denominador común a todas estas crisis sanitarias mundiales ha sido la reacción de los países miembros de la OMS de querer reformar la Organización de tal manera que ésta pueda responder mejor a la crisis del momento. Este es exactamente el movimiento que ha desatado la COVID-19 y el tema y las negociaciones que probablemente nos ocuparán en los próximos años.
COVID-19 y la necesidad de una organización internacional
Velásquez, Germán: Vacunas, medicamentos y patentes. COVID-19 y la necesidad de una organización internacional. Vacunas covid-19: entre la ética, la salud y la economía. Desarrollo de la vacuna COVID-19; la inmunidad y el contagio; el nacionalismo de las vacunas; el mecanismo COVAX; licencias obligatorias; Acceso a medicamentos y vacunas: un nuevo actor. Medicamentos y propiedad intelectual: diez años de la estrategia mundial de la oms. Repensando la fabricación mundial y local de productos médicos tras el covid-19. Repensando la i+d para productos farmacéuticos después del covid-19. Propiedad intelectual y acceso a medicamentos y vacunas. Las reformas de la organización mundial de la salud en la época de covid-19. 2021. 244 pp. ISBN 978-9915-650-31-9.
Autor: Germán Velásquez, Asesor especial sobre políticas y salud, South Centre de Ginebra
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2021. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications of the outcomes of internal policy-oriented research and external contributions made as a result of cooperation with the Centre.
The author posits that the global public health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic along with the economic and distributional aspects of vaccines and treatments, involves a market failure without the underlying institutional safety nets for an effective, globally coordinated response. He proposes strong, self-standing institutions with clear mandates and resources to make effective interventions at three levels: political, financial and regulatory. Also, the WTO rules regarding export restrictions are at present too accommodative to allow for a quick response. For Intellectual Property, both manufacturing and licensing, and relaxation of IP rules should be considered.