The Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health: Lighting a Dark Corner at the WTO
Frederick M. Abbott
Florida State University - College of Law
March 31, 2002
Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 5, p. 469, 2002
The adoption by Ministers on 14 November 2001, in Doha, of the Ministerial Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health marked a turning point in political and legal relations at the WTO. Developing country Members sent a clear signal that they would take steps to protect and advance their essential interests. These Members demonstrated that by establishing a coalition, and maintaining it throughout a negotiating process, they could prevent themselves from being outmaneuvered by the EU-US block.
The essence of the Declaration is captured in paragraph 4:
"We agree that the TRIPS Agreement does not and should not prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health. Accordingly, while reiterating our commitment to the TRIPS Agreement, we affirm that the Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members’ right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all."
The TRIPS Agreement is a flexible legal instrument, and the decision of Ministers will prove significant in supporting interpretations that promote the protection of public health. While the Declaration does not resolve developing country concerns regarding access to medicines and TRIPS, it is a significant milestone.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: WTO, TRIPS Agreement, Access to Medicines
JEL Classification: I18, O34, F10
Date posted: October 25, 2009