UN Human Rights Body Examines WIPO Development Agenda, Tech Transfer, WHO 29/01/2010 by Kaitlin Mara for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)A high-level task force on the right to development last week released two new reports at the United Nations, the results of technical missions to the World Intellectual Property Organization on its Development Agenda and to the World Health Organization on its strategy on intellectual property. The task force has for two years been examining this right to development in relation to the UN Millennium Development Goal 8, which deals with creating global partnerships for development. The task force has been using an evolving set of criteria (the latest report on what these are is available here [pdf]) to evaluate the work of other UN-bodies to determine if the processes through which they make decisions and implement those decisions is in line with the 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development, which calls the right to “enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development” an “inalienable human right.” The task force is a five-member expert body that assists a UN intergovernmental working group on the right to development, which ultimately reports to the UN Human Rights Council. The task force consists of Chairperson Stephen Marks of the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States, Nico Schrijver of Leiden University in the Netherlands, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr of the New School in the United States, Raymond Atuguba of the University of Ghana, Flavia Piovesan of the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paolo in Brazil. Its latest meeting ran from 14-22 January in Geneva. The reports to WIPO and the WHO are based on two targets within Millennium Development Goal 8, namely access to essential medicines and technology transfer. The report on technology transfer and the WIPO Development Agenda [pdf] grew out of a technical mission to WIPO from 13-17 July 2009. It called the Development Agenda “arguably the most important of the current global initiatives in advancing the realisation of the right to development.” Other issues in trade and aid, it says, have been moving slowly, but the Development Agenda is a “watershed.” But, it adds, implementation is happening slower than is ideal. This is because there is a “lack of a comprehensive and coherent strategy for its implementation,” it is hard for member states to reach consensus, there is no effective monitoring and evaluation system, and because it is a new programme “subject to a learning curve.” “Some interlocutors,” the report said “emphasised the importance” of better mainstreaming of the Development Agenda in all WIPO activities, including their technical assistance activities. These issues have been of particular importance to developing countries (IPW, WIPO, 4 November 2009). And WIPO’s work on IP and critical public policy issues has not been entirely neutral, the report says. For example, its Conference on Intellectual Property and Public Policy Issues (IPW, WIPO, 14 July 2009) “was not balanced” as it left out speakers from civil society, academics from developing countries, and was “overwhelmingly male dominated” (3 of 28 speakers were women). This is especially problematic because knowledge on what IP means for development is much more likely to be found in the global south, it adds. Report on Access to Medicines The report on access to essential medicines [pdf] examines the World Health Organization Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property and the intergovernmental working group that preceded it, as well as the Special Programme on Research and Training On Tropical Diseases and the Global Fund. On the global strategy, the report notes “there was no longer an opportunity to influence the process, which is complete,” but that its implementation is a good opportunity to link human rights to public health, innovation and IP. Public health, it adds, “should have the highest priority.” The report suggests that a recommendation be made by its supervising body (the Working Group on the Right to Development) to the WHO that it “play a greater role in resisting TRIPS-plus and facilitating TRIPS flexibilities.” TRIPS-plus refers to IP rules stronger than those required in the World Trade Organization Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement] It also mentions the task-force’s reaction to a report by an independent consultant on the intergovernmental working group (IPW, United Nations, 3 April 2009), and discusses another report [pdf] in June on the Global Fund and Tropical Diseases, which it says focussed too much on IP issues at the expense of the broader human rights agenda. There is also a new external expert paper [pdf] prepared by the Center for International Environmental Law for the task force, examining the right to development and climate change, but it does not mention intellectual property rights or innovation (though the importance of technology transfer is acknowledged and discussed). Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Kaitlin Mara may be reached at email@example.com."UN Human Rights Body Examines WIPO Development Agenda, Tech Transfer, WHO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.