[Ip-health] NGOs Protest Against AFrica IP Summit

Sangeeta ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Thu Feb 9 02:49:47 PST 2012

Below is a NGO letter protesting against the upcoming Africa IP Summit.

Background: The US government is planning to hold in April an Africa IP
Summit in partnership with Japan, France, and WIPO. South Africa is hosting
this meeting.

The main focus of this Summit is enhanced IP protection and enforcement
particularly on counterfeiting and piracy.The private sector (ICC,
BASCAP,Pfizer, Eli Lily et al) is sponsoring this meeting.
Clearly this is a platform for US, Japan France to promote the TRIPS plus
plus agendas seen in ACTA, TPPA, EPA etc, and this Summit will be promoting
more anti-counterfeiting bills in Africa.
As seen in the case of anti-counterfeiting bills in East Africa, many of the
provisions are likely to have a problematic impact on the ability to use
flexibilities to meet development objectives and public interests issues
such as access to medicines, access to knowledge, freedom of expression over
the internet. 

So in protest many NGOs have written a letter to WIPO raising a number of
their concerns. 

 The concept paper for this meeting is available at :

The latest programme of the Summit is available on Thiru's blog:


7th February 2012

Mr. Francis Gurry
Director General
World Intellectual Property Organization
Africa IP Summit: Lacking a Development Dimension

Dear Mr. Gurry,

In 2004, the WIPO Development Agenda was launched amidst significant
concerns that WIPO¹s activities lacked a development dimension, undermined
public interest, while promoting the interests of IP holders. The
Development Agenda received widespread global support leading to the
adoption of 45 Development Agenda recommendations in 2007.

We believe that at the core of these recommendations is the need for WIPO
to ensure that a balanced and evidence based agenda on intellectual
property is promoted taking into account the different levels of
development and public interest considerations. Principles of transparency
and avoiding of conflicts of interests also underpin these

In view of this, we note with significant disappointment and concern the
context in which the upcoming Africa IP Summit will be held. Some key
concerns are:

Conflicts of Interest: It is worrying to see that a major event such as an
Africa wide forum is being co-organised in partnership with US, France and
Japan. These governments are known for advocating TRIPS plus agendas in
developing countries in the interests of their own industries and
priorities. For instance these countries are proponents of the
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a plurilateral treaty that is
widely criticized for its secret negotiating process and the detrimental
impact on public interest issues such as access to medicines, freedom of
expression over the internet and access to knowledge. One key aim of the
treaty is to export these problematic IP enforcement standards to
developing countries.

These countries also promote TRIPS plus standards through Free Trade
Agreements such as through the Economic Partnership Agreements, and the
recent Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. It is widely known that the
different TRIPS plus standards advocated to, and in many cases imposed on
to developing countries, will have devastating consequences for
development including on access to affordable medicines, freedom of
expression over the internet and access to knowledge. These standards are
imposed to ³kick away the ladder² for developing countries and to protect
the interests of certain influential domestic actors.  In view of this,
WIPO¹s partnership with these countries to host an Africa wide IP Summit
amounts to conflict of interests and is simply unacceptable.

To make matters worse the Summit is being sponsored by the private sector
in particular the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business Action
to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP), Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Company
etc., that clearly have a strong stake in a pro-IP protection and
enforcement agenda . The involvement of the private sector also raises
issues of conflict of interests.

WIPO being an intergovernmental and a specialized agency of the UN must
take immediate measures to ensure that all its activities are evidence
based, free of conflicts of interests and undue influence of actors that
are known to promote an unbalanced IP agenda.

Lacking a development and public interest dimension: The Africa IP Summit
concept paper suggests a programme that undermines the spirit of
Development Agenda. It is premised on the notion that heightened IP
protection and enforcement will deliver development and protect public
interest. This distorted approach has no historical or empirical basis and
has been clearly rejected by the Development Agenda process. Important
development issues such as the different levels of development, the
importance of flexibilities (e.g. LDC transition periods, exceptions and
limitations (e.g. parallel importation, compulsory licensing,) in meeting
developmental objectives, examining and addressing the impact of IP on
critical public interests issues such as access to affordable medicines,
and access to knowledge, appear to be disregarded.

Even more worrying is that the Summit aims to promote the link between IP
enforcement and public health and safety, presumably to frighten people
into accepting inappropriate standards of IP enforcement agenda.  We
stress that an IP enforcement framework will not deliver effective public
health protection as IP rights are not granted on the basis of the quality
and safety of the product. Instead inappropriate standards of IP
enforcement are likely to hinder public health such as access to
affordable medicines. This has been amply demonstrated by the many
seizures of quality generic medicines in transit at various European

Lobbying by some multinational companies and their developed country
governments in linking IP enforcement to public health has led to a
proliferation of anti-counterfeiting bills in many African countries as
well as at the regional level, most notably in East Africa. The enactment
of these bills is usually promoted on public health grounds. However in
reality these bills are only about protecting the rights of IP holders and
are in fact ³TRIPS plus plus² in so many ways, containing provisions that
undermine flexibilities and that are detrimental to national developmental
objectives such as building local production capacity, scaling up access
to affordable medicines and improving access to knowledge. For example,
most of these bills define ³Counterfeit² products as being substantially
similar or identical to IP protected products, which effectively makes
every generic pharmaceutical a counterfeit. In Kenya, enactment of the
Anti-Counterfeit Act 2008 has been challenged by people living with
HIV/AIDS on the grounds that enforcement and application of the Act will
deny them access to affordable essential medicines and thus deny their
Right to Life.

Noting the controversies surrounding these bills, it is inappropriate for
WIPO to be championing the strengthening of IP enforcement on alleged
public health grounds.

Further we stress that addressing the issue of substandard, poor quality
medicines (also often labeled as ³counterfeit medicines²) is not within
the mandate of WIPO but a responsibility of the World Health Organization.
Dealing with the problem of ³counterfeit medicines² requires a focus not
on IP enforcement but on building regulatory capacity and ensuring access
to affordable medicines.  A process is already underway at the WHO to
address this. Apart from medicines, it is also not within WIPO¹s mandate
to deal with other poor quality, substandard products thus it is
surprising that the Africa IP Summit is heavily focused on this issue.

Lack of Transparency & Information: According to available information,
the WIPO and African regional IP organizations are key partners in the
organization of the Africa IP Summit. However to date there appears to be
no information available on WIPO¹s website about this Summit. This
undermines implementation of the Development Agenda recommendation on

Further the US government website  states that registration request will
not guarantee participation and that the participants will be selected.
However no information is being provided on the criteria that will be the
basis for selection.

Following the above concerns, we demand that: WIPO postpone the holding of
the Africa wide IP Summit. WIPO should also reconsider its partnership
with the different interests involved and work to organize a balanced
forum that is development oriented and upholds public interests as well as
that is free of any conflicts of interests and influence of actors that
tend to promote an unbalanced IP agenda. The process of organizing such a
forum, (i.e. the selection of speakers, the drafting of the programme,
criteria for selection of participants) should be transparent and all
information should be promptly available on WIPO¹s website.  Further we
also call on WIPO to avoid partnering actors that tend to promote an
unbalanced IP agenda in all its future activities.

1. Mr. Gift Sibanda
Director General
African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)

2. Mr. Paulin Edou Edou
Director General
African Intellectual Property Office (OAPI)


Act Up Paris
Action Against AIDS, Germany
Akiba Uhaki Foundation, Kenya
AIDES, France
AIDS Law Project, Kenya
All India Drug Action Network, India
Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC), South Africa
Alternative Agricultural Network, Thailand
AFASO, Cameroon
African Council of AIDS Service Organizations (AfriCASO), Senegal
African Services Committee, US
AIDS ACCESS Foundation, Thailand
ASAFE, Cameroon
Aseed Europe, Amsterdam
Association Alternative, Côte d'Ivoire
Association d'aide et de Protection des groupes Vulnerables du Centre
Nord, Burkina Faso
Association des Femmes vivant avec le VIH / SIDA, Mauritania
Association de lutte contre le sida, Maroc
Association New Way+
Association de Protection Contre le Sida, (APCS), Algerie
Association soleil pour le soutien des enfants affectes et infectes par le
VIH/ sida au Maroc
Association Tunisienne de Lutte contre le Sida, Tunis
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, India
The Center for Health, Human Rights and Development, Uganda
Center for Encounter and active Non-Violence, Austria
Coalition 15%, Cameroon
Coalition PLUS, France
Comite Regional de Promocion de Salud Comunitaria (CRPSC)
Consumers International
Cross River Farm Credit Scheme, Nigeria
Derechos Digitales, Chile
Diverse Women for Diversity, India
Drug Study Group, Thailand
Drug System Monitoring and Development Program, Thailand
Ecological Alert and Recovery ­ Thailand (EARTH)
Ecumenical Service for Peace, Cameroon
European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG), Belgium.
Fondation Femme Plus Kin, République Démocratique du Congo
Foundation for AIDS Rights, Thailand
Foundation for Consumers, Thailand
FTA Watch, Thailand
Health Consumers Protection Program, Thailand
Health and Development Foundation, Thailand
Health GAP (Global Access Project)
Health Action International Africa
Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge, I-MAK
Initiative for Health & Equity in Society, India
Institute for economic research on innovation, South Africa
Ivorian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (RIP+)
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
LGBTIQ Tanzania
Medsin, UK
Mozambique Network against Poverty, HIV/AIDS, Family Violence and
Occupational Health Diseases, (ROCPA)
National Empowerment Network of PLHAs in Kenya (NEPHAK)
Navdanya, India
Network Togolese Association for Patients Safety (RETASEP)
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
Médecins Sans Frontières, South Africa
Organisation Pan Africaine de lutte contre le Sida - Maroc (OPALS - Maroc)
Positive Generation, Cameroon
Peoples¹ Health Movement, Global
Peoples¹ Health Movement, Latin America
Peoples¹ Health Movement, South Africa
Réseau Accès aux Médicaments Essentiels (RAME)
Réseau des associations de PVVIH (RMAP+), Mauritania
Réseau Ethique, Droit et Sida (REDS), Yaoundé-Cameroun
Réseau Nigerien des Personnes Vivant Avec le VIH/SIDA(RENIP+)
Research Foundation for Science Technology & Ecology, India
Rural Pharmacists Foundation, Thailand
Rural Doctors Foundation, Thailand
Rural Doctor Society, Thailand
SEATINI, South Africa
Social Pharmacy Research Unit, Chulalongkorn University
Sidaction, France
Solthis, France
Thai Holistic Health Foundation
Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS
The Good Samaritan Social Service Tanzania
The Thai Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (TNP+)
Third World Network
Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa
Treatment Access Watch, Cameroon
Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC), Zambia
Widevision et Droits de l'Homme, Cameroon,
3SH, Cameroon
Ayorinde P. Oduroye, Deputy Registrar/Secretary, School of Postgraduate
Studies, Babcock University, Nigeria
Dr. Caroline B Ncube, Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Town
Dr. Leslie London, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University
of Cape Town
Dr. Louis Reynolds, Associate Professor, University of Cape Town
Esther Sandrine Ngom, IP Consultant, Cameroon
Hala Essalmawi, Principal Attorney, The Library of Alexandria (Bibliotheca
Henry Zakumumpa, Makerere University
Margot Kaminsky, Executive Director of the Information Society Project at
Yale Law School
Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto,
Prof. David Sanders, School of Public Health, University of the Western
Sean Flynn, Associate Director, Program on Information Justice and
Intellectual Property (PIJIP), American University Washington College of
Susan Sell, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs,
George Washington University, Washington, DC
Yassin Tusingwire, East African research and Legal Chambers, Rwanda

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