Trade Agreements, Intellectual Property and Access to Essential Medicines: What Future Role for the Right to Health?
GLOBAL GOVERNANCE OF HIV/AIDS, Aginam & Harrington, eds., Edward Elgar, 2010
28 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2009 Last revised: 19 Feb 2014
Date Written: October 23, 2009
There has been much discussion of the impact of TRIPS and TRIPS-plus provisions on the ability of many developing countries to successfully implement healthcare policies which maximise access to essential medicines for fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Amongst these critiques, a substantial number of actors have framed their arguments utilising the discourse of human rights. Most of the actors who have utilised such a human rights discourse focus upon the negative impact of the TRIPS Agreement on the right to health.
This paper seeks to explore the rationale for this human rights discourse and to investigate what it has added to the other types of critiques of TRIPS and TRIPS plus provisions. It will argue that human rights discourse around the issues of the TRIPS Agreement and access to essential medicines has primarily focused on the strength of human rights as universal values which can be utilised as a rallying call to a range of actors coming together to campaign on the issue and a ‘signal’ of the importance of the issue to those seeking to utilise TRIPS obligations to undermine the provision of essential medicines. But it will argue that, given the complex issues faced post-Doha Declaration, there is a need to more deeply engage with the detailed legal obligations of human rights if their full added value in critiquing the impact of TRIPS and TRIPS-plus obligations on access to essential medicines is to be realised.
Keywords: HIV, AIDS, Human Rights, Trade, Intellectual Property, TRIPS
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