Intellectual Property, Human Rights and Development
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Intellectual Property, Human Rights and Development

The Role of NGOs and Social Movements

Duncan Matthews

This insightful and important new book explores the role played by non-governmental-organizations (NGOs) in articulating concerns at the TRIPS Council, the WIPO, the WHO, the CBD-COP and the FAO that intellectual property rights can have negative consequences for developing countries. Duncan Matthews describes how coalitions of international NGOs have influenced the way that the relationship between intellectual property rights and development is understood, often framing the message as a human rights issue to emphasize these concerns and ensure that access to medicines, food security and the rights of indigenous peoples over their traditional knowledge are protected.
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Chapter 8: Reappraising Intellectual Property Rights and Development: The Role of NGOs and Social Movements

Duncan Matthews


INTRODUCTION Since the TRIPS Agreement came into force there has been a rapid growth in the number of NGOs reappraising the relationship between intellectual property rights and development. International NGOs have been highlighting concerns about the impact of intellectual property rights on developing countries and engaging with intellectual property-related policy-making and norm-setting activities in multilateral institutions to an extent not seen previously. The issues covered by NGOs include a vast array of inter-related topics. In relation to public health and access to medicines, for instance, concerns have ranged from how best developing countries can utilize flexibilities contained in the TRIPS Agreement, to deliberations in the WHO about how best to improve R&D into neglected diseases. Similarly, NGOs have played an important role by contributing to the debate on policy-making and norm-setting activities of the TRIPS Council, UPOV, the FAO, the CBD-COP and the WIPO on access and ownership to plant varieties, genetic resources and traditional knowledge. The contribution of NGOs to the Development Agenda process of the WIPO is also worthy of particular note. This chapter explains how and why NGOs have been able to play such an important role in supporting the work of developing delegates to multilateral institutions. It then highlights the important role played by developing country NGOs. It also assesses current arrangements that multilateral institutions have for NGO engagement and explains the limits on what NGOs can hope to achieve. The chapter concludes by evaluating the role played by NGOs in the WIPO Development Agenda...

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