[Ip-health] Pharmabiz: Over 100 NGOs ask WIPO to postpone forthcoming IP Summit

Sangeeta ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Thu Feb 9 02:56:37 PST 2012

Over 100 international NGOs ask WIPO to postpone forthcoming IP Summit in
South Africa Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai, Thursday, February 09, 2012, 08:00 Hrs


A large number of NGOs spread across the world have demand to the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to postpone the forthcoming IP
Summit in South Africa in April this year as the event is lacking
development and public interest dimension; lacks transparency and
information; and there are conflicts of interest in the entire Africa wide

The NGOs have also demanded to the WIPO to 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.

Expressing concern over the holding of the proposed Africa IP Summit, the
international NGOs said that 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. ³Further we also call on WIPO to
avoid partnering actors that tend to promote an unbalanced IP agenda in all
its future activities² the NGOs said.

In a letter to the WIPO director general Francis Gurry, more than 100
international NGOs expressed their concern over co-organising the summit in
partnership with US, France and Japan which 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.

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.

Besides, the NGOs said, the summit lacks a development and public interest
dimension. The 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 ports, the NGOs said.

Criticizing the organisers for lack of transparency and information, the
NGOs said that 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

More information about the Ip-health mailing list