Human Rights, Development, and the Wto: The Cases of Intellectual Property and Competition Policy
Posted: 29 Feb 2008
Date Written: September 2006
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has sometimes been portrayed as being at odds with the protection of human rights. This article takes issue with this perception, both generally and with specific reference to WTO agreements/activities in the areas of intellectual property (IP) and competition policy. The rules and procedures of the WTO are directly supportive of civil rights in the sense of freedom to participate in markets and freedom from arbitrary governmental procedures. In addition, the system contributes to development and to the realization of broader economic, social, and cultural rights, by stimulating economic growth and thereby helping to generate the resources that are needed for the fulfilment of such rights. The article examines various human rights and public interest rationales for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs). The recent amendment to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to facilitate access to medicines in the event of public health emergencies is outlined. With respect to competition policy, such policy constitutes an important aspect of governance in successful market-based economies. There is a clear need for cooperative approaches to the implementation of national competition policies. The appropriate scope and venue for such cooperation are a matter for further deliberation.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation