Council for TRPIS: Paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement
HJI Statement at the Informal Thematic Session for Stakeholder Input, Geneva 28 September 2023
In October 2020, South Africa and India submitted a proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive certain of its Intellectual Property (IP) rules to enable many more manufacturers to produce vaccines, testing kits and medicines as well as other medical technologies, to help end the COVID-19 pandemic – this is commonly called the ‘TRIPS WAIVER’ proposal.
The South African government and its negotiating team initially played a critical and leading role in bringing together over 100 member countries of the WTO in support of that proposal and engaged the opposition from rich countries and the pharmaceutical industry with reasoned arguments. President Ramaphosa had also demonstrated strong leadership as a champion of the TRIPS Waiver proposal.
However, discussions at the WTO dragged on for almost 20 months with a ‘deal’ or decision announced on 17 June 2022 at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva.
- In March 2022, a‘leaked document’ was published – indicating that a proposed ‘text’ for a negotiated settlement, existed.
- In May 2022, the DG of the WTO tabled a ‘text’ for negotiation and discussion, commonly referred to as the ‘DG’s Text’.
Many commentators and health groups argued that the ‘leaked’ text and the ‘DG’s text’ was a ‘watering down’ of the original proposal; represented an inadequate and ‘bad deal’; and should not be pursued by countries in the global south and others.
- On 17 June 2022, the WTO announced that member states had agreed to a decision on the negotiations. The WTO decision has been critiqued by commentators and health groups who argue that it is a ‘weak deal’, represents a problematic process and is a ‘slap in the face’ for poor countries.
Below is a collection of useful links to all available Open Letters, Opinion Pieces, Commentaries, Analysis, Press Briefings and Media Articles that include reactions to the ‘leaked text’, the DG’s Text and the 17 June 2022 WTO decision.
- Access the Professor Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate), Professor Jayati Ghosh and Mr Peter Kamalingin Letter to the South African President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, here.
- Access the South African Academics and Researchers Open Letter to the South African President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, here.
- Access the South African Civil Society Letter to South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, here.
- Access the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba; Professor Mariana Mazzucato; Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz; Professor Imraan Valodia; Dr Rohinton P. Medhora; Professor Srinath Reddy; letter to the Prime Minister of India, here.
- 15 June – Access the Open letter to Trade Ministers at the World Trade Organization (WTO); Joint CSO call to all WTO Trade Ministers to not accept the current draft of Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement and demand a real Waiver, here.
- 28 May – Indian CSOs letter to Indian Prime Minister requesting India take urgent intervention in the TRIPS Waiver text-based negotiations, here.
- 9 June – Open Letters: Open Letter to Canadian Prime Minister
‘High-profile Canadian and international voices blast Justin Trudeau for protecting pharma profits over human lives at the World Trade Organization, in an open letter on the eve of upcoming ministerial meetings.’
Access the Open Letter here.
- 10 June – Public Service International (PSI): A Letter to South African President: Reject WTO DG Ngozi’s text towards a TRIPS Waiver Outcome, here.
- 13 June – Open Letter from the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to the World Trade Organization’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference, here.
- 15 June – Open letter to Trade Ministers at the World Trade Organization (WTO), here.