Human Rights and Capitalism

Human Rights and Capitalism

A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Globalisation

Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series

Edited by Janet Dine and Andrew Fagan

Human Rights and Capitalism brings together two important facets of the globalisation debate and examines the complex relationship between human rights, property rights and capitalist economies.

Chapter 7: TRIPS and Bilateralism: Technology Transfer in a Development Perspective

Steve Anderman and Rohan Kariyawasam

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


Steve Anderman and Rohan Kariyawasam 1. INTRODUCTION The global expansion of legal protection for intellectual property rights in the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) within the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been fuelled by a desire of the larger privately owned corporations in the wealthier countries of the world to ensure a profitable return for their Intellectual Property (IP) protected assets particularly in developing countries without IP legislation.1 This process has been described as one, ‘whereby the wish lists of various intellectual property lobby groups [have been] inscribed into public international law.’2 There are undoubted conflicts ‘between the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement and the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights’ particularly in relation to impediments to transfer of technology to developing countries.3 While it is true that Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are also viewed as human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,4 there is a crucial difference between recognising human rights as a foundational principle for the creation of IPRs by the state and the exercise of IPRs by private parties which has detrimental effects on LDCs.5 The multilateral extension of IPR protection regimes as minimum standards with its negative effects upon the developing world is only part of the story of inhibited technology transfer. The TRIPs Agreement has been accompanied by a series of bilateral agreements including TRIPS-plus agreements,6 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) which have cumulatively resulted in the imposition...

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