Human Rights, Development, and the Wto: The Cases of Intellectual Property and Competition Policy

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Robert D. Anderson

Robert D. Anderson

University of Nottingham (UK); University of Nottingham (UK)

Hannu Wager

World Trade Organization (WTO)

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

Anderson, Robert D. and Wager, Hannu, Human Rights, Development, and the Wto: The Cases of Intellectual Property and Competition Policy (September 2006). Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 9, Issue 3, pp. 707-747, 2006, Available at SSRN: or

Robert D. Anderson (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham (UK) ( email )

4109 Cascina Way
Sarasota, FL FL 34238
United States

University of Nottingham (UK) ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

Hannu Wager

World Trade Organization (WTO) ( email )

154 Rue de Lausanne
Intellectual Property Division
CH-1211 Geneva 21

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