The Role of NGOs and Social Movements
Chapter 5: Brazil
5. Brazil INTRODUCTION The recent history of democratic struggle in Brazil, which culminated in the end of military rule in 1985, has had significant implications for the culture of social activism on intellectual property-related issues and how NGOs have embraced and utilized principles of human rights in articulating their concerns. When military dictatorship came to an end in Brazil in the 1980s, there followed a profound period of national self-reflection. Public policy objectives were gradually restructured around a new social agenda for the country. This social agenda was underpinned by a new democratic constitution, firmly grounded in human rights principles that should be upheld at all costs to avoid a repeat of abuses experienced during the era of military dictatorship. These human rights principles have since proved central to government initiatives on a range of issues in Brazil and have been particularly prevalent in campaigns to ensure access to medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS. To a lesser extent, the belief that indigenous peoples and local communities in the Amazon have an inalienable human right to protect the biodiversity over which they are custodians has also informed campaigns to secure the rights of these peoples with regard to their traditional knowledge of uses for genetic resources. HUMAN RIGHTS AND ACCESS TO MEDICINES The end of military rule coincided with a new public health imperative as the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in Brazil in 1985. This public health crisis led to the emergence of new NGOs representing people living...
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