Intellectual Property and Human Rights from a Cosmopolitan Liberal Perspective
The primacy of human rights over trade liberalization is consistent with the trade regime on its own terms. The institutions that are the official guardians of trade law pose formidable barriers to the proper and full realization of this insight.1 As significant progress is being made in the field of human genetics, physicians, researchers and governments increasingly recognise that genetic technology, research tools, and therapeutic and preventive services are crucial for the improvement of global health. In particular, there is significant evidence that genetics will play an increasing role in medicine and public health in the coming years, and that it could consequently also have far-reaching impact on the health of developing countries’ populations. However, less affluent countries often do not have the financial, technological and human resources to take advantage of these potential benefits and tailor them to their specific health care needs. Even with an increasing, globally accessible, body of scientific and technological knowledge and constant medical progress and discoveries, the condition of human health in many developing countries continues to decline.2 Disparity in access to products and services arising from genetics is an important issue for the contemporary international policy agenda, and a specific challenge is to find ways to harness genetic knowledge so that it can contribute to global health equity through collaborative efforts. This topic has recently attracted a great deal of attention in many fora, especially in light of the widely-used concept of genetic-benefit sharing. Beyond outrage and intuitive feelings of injustice, however, the...
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