[Ip-health] Open Letter to TRIPS Council Chairman on LDC Extension

Sangeeta Shashikant ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Mon May 20 16:38:25 PDT 2013


May 20, 2013
 
An Open Letter to the Chair of the Council on Trade Related Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS): Alfredo
Suescum, Ambassador of Panama to the World Trade Organization (WTO)
 

Dear Ambassador Suescum,

 
We are outraged with the manner in which informal consultations are being
conducted on the issue of extension of the LDC¹s
transition period. We find the current process to be unfair and
prejudicial to the
interests of the LDCs, the poorest and most vulnerable segment of the
international community.
 

The LDC¹s request has obtained extensive support from the
developing world but the supporters of the LDC¹s request have not been
invited
to participate in the current on-going consultations. Instead, the
consultations have been limited to developed countries (that are opposed
to the
LDCs request) and to the LDC Group. It is outrageous that developing
countries
that have supported the LDC request (which together with the LDCs form the
vast
majority of actual members of the WTO), are being prevented from
participating
in the consultations. As a result you are depriving LDCs of their allies,
while
attempting to overwhelm the negotiating capacity of the poorest members of
the
WTO by placing them in an unfair position where they have to face the
united
might of the developed countries. Clearly the consultations have been
designed
so that the outcome will fail the LDCs.
 

In addition, the LDC request for an extension of the transition
period to defer implementation of the TRIPS agreement has been made as per
Article
66.1 which states WTO members SHALL grant an extension once LDCs submit a
³duly
motivated request². Thus, developed countries are in violation of WTO rules
even to demand negotiations to the terms of the extension decision.

We refer you to a letter <http://www.infojustice.org/archives/29438> sent
by 130-plus
legal and other academics from high-, middle-, and low-income countries who
specialize in international intellectual property and trade law,
development
studies, human rights, and other related disciplines which reiterates this
legal mandate. It is a violation of your supposedly ³neutral² role as the
Chair
to allow for negotiations to occur, when adherence to the rules-based
system
would necessitate that you facilitate the granting of the extension as
requested by the LDCs in their duly motivated request IP/C/W/583, as
mandated
by Article 66.1 of the TRIPS agreement.

 
Further, we find it is unconscionable that you are enabling
negotiations of conditionalities in the extension decision, which will
greatly
minimize or nullify the benefit of the transition period. Developed
countries are
demanding that LDCs agree not to dismantle any existing TRIPS-complaint
legislation, through a variety of convoluted language options. Such
demands are
illegitimate as they alter the nature of rights LDCs are entitled to
during the
transition period and conflict with Article 66.1. We are also concerned
that
the consultations are facilitating developed countries¹ blatant disregard
of
the rationale of the transition period that is explicitly stated in Article
66.1 of TRIPS (i.e. to provide flexibility to LDCs to overcome their
contraints
and to develop a viable technological base) and accomodating language that
will
commit LDCs to become TRIPS compliant irrespective of their capacities and
technological development.
 

We would like to stress that as the Chairman of the TRIPS
Council, you have a solemn duty to ensure that the terms of the extension
decision do not violate WTO rules or conflict with the rationale and the
full
rights LDCs are entitled to under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement.
 

We also reiterate that the LDC request has
received massive support from all segments of society. Apart from strong
support developing countries advocated at the last TRIPS Council
meeting,[1] <#_ftn1> many civil society
groups (representing millions)[2] <#_ftn2>, industry[3] <#_ftn3>,
academics[4] <#_ftn4>, UN agencies[5] <#_ftn5> have also firmly
supported the approval of an unconditional extension of the transition
period
for as long as a country remains a LDC. They have rejected the notion that
implementation of the TRIP Agreement benefits LDCs and supported LDCs¹
right to
roll back existing intellectual property rules should they be adverse to
their
needs and interests.
 

They have also supported that the duration of the extension
be for as long as LDCs remain LDCs as their conditions are terribly poor.
For example more than
half of the LDC population lives on less than $1.25 (PPP) per day; adult
literacy rate in LDCs is on average at 60.7%, with gross enrolment in
tertiary
education at about 6.6% while primary school dropout rate at 40.9 % of the
population; only 1.7 per 100 people have personal computers, while about 5
out
of 100 have access to the worldwide network; more than half of the LDC
population do not have access to electricity, water or sanitation
facilities.
The productive capacities in LDCs are also extremely limited and they tend
to
be at the bottom of all innovation/technology indices. These conditions
suggest
that the proposed time-frame is not only practical but also
necessary. Short time-frames such as that currently proposed by developed
countries (e.g. 5 years) cannot be the basis of the consultations. We
stress
that it is your duty to ensure that the LDCs are extended the time-frame
they
have requested.
 

Finally we specifically refer to you the letter sent on 21st February,
2013 by
376 civil society organizations from nearly every member of the WTO,
demanding
that WTO members immediately grant the extension as requested by the LDCs,
without conditionalities. On behalf of those 376 organizations and their
hundreds of millions of members across the globe, we demand that you
immediately cease facilitating the bullying of the LDCs in the TRIPS
negotiations, and instead facilitate the immediate and unconditional
granting
of the extension, as requested by the LDCs.
 

Sincerely, 
 
 
Our World Is
Not for Sale (OWINFS) network
LDC Watch
 
 

 

________________________________________
[1] <#_ftnref1> See
http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/intellectual_property/info.service/2013/ip
r.info.130301.htm
and 
http://www.ip-watch.org/2013/03/06/wto-wide-support-for-ldc-trips-transitio
n-extension-with-a-hitch/

[2] <#_ftnref2> See
Civil Society Letter at
http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/CSO-Letter-Suppor
ting-Extension-of-LDCs-Transition-Period.pdf
and See Statement of Electronic
Information for Libraries (EIFL) at
http://www.eifl.net/eifl-statement-support-lcd-trips-waiver.

[3] <#_ftnref3> See
statement by Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) at
http://www.ccianet.org/?sid=5&artid=363&evtflg=False

[4] <#_ftnref4> See
Global Academics Letter to WTO Members on TRIPS Extension at
http://infojustice.org/archives/29370

[5] <#_ftnref5> See
http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarch
ive/2013/february/20130226prtrips/
and 
http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/unaidspublica
tion/2013/JC2474_TRIPS-transition-period-extensions_en.pdf








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