[Ip-health] IP Watch: Call Issued For UN Intervention In Trans-Pacific Regional Trade Pact

Krista Cox krista.cox at keionline.org
Mon Mar 28 10:17:50 PDT 2011


Intellectual Property Watch
28 March 2011

Call Issued For UN Intervention In Trans-Pacific Regional Trade Pact
By William New @ 6:27 pm

As officials gather this week to continue negotiations for a trade agreement
among countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, a multi-country set of
nongovernmental organisations and academics urged a United Nations-appointed
official to intervene, on grounds that the trade deal will severely impact
the public health of poor populations in those countries.

At issue is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), on which negotiators are
meeting this week, from 28 March to 2 April, in Singapore. This is the sixth
round of negotiations.

A 22 March letter of appeal was sent by NGOs and academics to Anand Grover,
the Special Rapporteur for the United Nations on the right of everyone to
the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.

“We allege that the TPP negotiations on intellectual property norms, as
presently being conducted, threaten and violate the right of hundreds of
millions of persons to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of
health,” the letter said. The 20-page letter is available here [pdf].

The group consists of more than a dozen signers including Knowledge Ecology
International, Health Action International, and a number of other groups and
individual law professors from affected countries, from Australia, New
Zealand, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Malaysia and the United States.

The basis for the complaint is a leaked draft of a US proposal for the IP
chapter of the agreement, available here, from February. The group argues
that the agreement: is wrongly being negotiated in secret; is being
negotiated with far too much power given to one negotiating member (the
United States); would lead parties to elevate patent protection too far
beyond their commitments under the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement
on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the
terms of the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.

The document says that in the US alone, some 700 private sector
representatives have privileged access to information about negotiations,
while citizens are all but left out of the process.

The group asserted that the United States is expected to propose, with
possible support from Australia, a set of demands regarding the use of
exclusive rights in pharmaceutical regulatory test data, linkage between
patent status and drug registration and the extension of patent terms, that
will exceed WTO obligations and run contrary to developing country

Other concerns are potential limitations on medical technologies, and
apparent omissions related to “obligations to support funding for global
AIDS programs, to make investments in priority medical research and
development, or to share access to government funded research.”

The letter of request for intervention details numerous ways the negotiation
relates directly to UN agreements and principles, and lays out a variety of
possible steps to address the concerns.

The next planned rounds of TPP negotiations are: 20-24 June in Viet Nam,
6-11 September in San Francisco, and 24-28 October in Lima, Peru, according
to the NGO coalition.

Technologists Seek Copyright Changes in TPP Draft

Separately, groups representing a digital rights and high-tech perspective
issued a call for changes to the copyright language in the TPP draft. The
call came from Public Knowledge, the Special Libraries Association and
Internet NZ.

“This discussion draft calls for protection of copyright owners as well as
preservation and promotion of copyright limitations and exceptions that
allow companies to innovate and democratic discourse to thrive,” Rashmi
Rangnath, staff attorney for Public Knowledge, said in a blog post.

Krista Cox
Staff Attorney
Knowledge Ecology International
(202) 332-2670

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