Intellectual Property in the WTO Volume I
Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Carlos M. Correa
Chapter 6: Mainstreaming the TRIPS and Human Rights Interactions
Xavier Seuba 1. Introduction In the year 2000, the United Nations Sub-commission on Human Rights affirmed that ‘actual or potential conflicts exist between the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement and the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights’. Among those conflicts, the Sub-commission singled out ‘impediments to the transfer of technology to developing countries, the consequences for the enjoyment of the right to food of plant variety rights and the patenting of genetically modified organisms, “bio-piracy” and the reduction of communities’ (especially indigenous communities) control over their own genetic and natural resources and cultural values, and restrictions of access to patented pharmaceuticals’.1 According to the Sub-commission, said problems were caused because ‘the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement does not adequately reflect the fundamental nature and indivisibility of all human rights, including the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, the right to health, the right to food and the right to self-determination’.2 Since then, numerous United Nations human rights bodies, national courts and States have emphasized similar concerns, and the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the international human rights legal system has been studied in greater depth. The relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and international human rights law must be studied in two broad frameworks, namely, that concerning the more general relation between intellectual property law and human rights law, and the other related to the interaction between public international law and World Trade Organization (WTO) law. It is the combination of the...
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