NGOs, Intellectual Property Rights and Multilateral Institutions

37 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2007

See all articles by Duncan Matthews

Duncan Matthews

Queen Mary University of London - School of Law

Date Written: December 2006


This paper analyses patterns of recent activity by NGOs in relation to intellectual property issues in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Convention on Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (CBD-COP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The paper, a response to the UK Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, explains how and why international NGOs play an important role in supporting the work of delegates to multilateral institutions. It also describes how NGOs, social movements, indigenous groups and local communities in developing countries have played a key role in raising awareness of the implications of intellectual property policy for development. The paper then assesses current arrangements for NGO engagement with multilateral institutions and suggests how these arrangements could be enhanced in the future. The paper concludes by setting out six recommendations for international NGOs, for multilateral institutions and for the donors of funds that support the work of NGOs.

Keywords: NGOs, intellectual property rights, public health, access to medicines, biodiversity, access to genetic resources, farmers' rights, indigenous knowledge, WTO, WIPO, WHO, CBD, FAO

JEL Classification: I18, K33, O2, Q17

Suggested Citation

Matthews, Duncan, NGOs, Intellectual Property Rights and Multilateral Institutions (December 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Duncan Matthews (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London - School of Law ( email )

Mile End Road
London, London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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