Doha Declaration

The Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health was adopted by the WTO Ministerial Conference of 2001 in Doha on November 14, 2001. It reaffirmed flexibility of TRIPS member states in circumventing patent rights for better access to essential medicines.

In Paragraphs 4 to 6 of the Doha Declaration, governments agreed that:

"4. 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.
In this connection, we reaffirm the right of WTO Members to use, to the full, the provisions in the TRIPS Agreement, which provide flexibility for this purpose.
5. Accordingly and in the light of paragraph 4 above, while maintaining our commitments in the TRIPS Agreement, we recognize that these flexibilities include:
(a) In applying the customary rules of interpretation of public international law, each provision of the TRIPS Agreement shall be read in the light of the object and purpose of the Agreement as expressed, in particular, in its objectives and principles.
(b) Each Member has the right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted.
(c) Each Member has the right to determine what constitutes a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency, it being understood that public health crises, including those relating to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics, can represent a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency.
(d) The effect of the provisions in the TRIPS Agreement that are relevant to the exhaustion of intellectual property rights is to leave each Member free to establish its own regime for such exhaustion without challenge, subject to the MFN and national treatment provisions of Articles 3 and 4.
6. We recognize that WTO Members with insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector could face difficulties in making effective use of compulsory licensing under the TRIPS Agreement. We instruct the Council for TRIPS to find an expeditious solution to this problem and to report to the General Council before the end of 2002."

These provisions in the Declaration ensure that governments may issue compulsory licenses on patents for medicines, or take other steps to protect public health.

Current status

In 2005, WTO members reached agreement on an amendment to the TRIPS Agreement to make permanent the temporary waiver contained in the August 30 WTO Decision, which itself fulfilled the requirement of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health of November 14, 2001. This decision created a mechanism to allow WTO members to issue compulsory licences to export generic versions of patented medicines to countries with insufficient or no manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector. O The 2005 Ministerial Declaration stated:

"We reaffirm the importance we attach to the General Council Decision of 30 August 2003 on the Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, and to an amendment to the TRIPS Agreement replacing its provisions. In this regard, we welcome the work that has taken place in the Council for TRIPS and the Decision of the General Council of 6 December 2005 on an Amendment of the TRIPS Agreement."[1]

The amendment, the first ever to the TRIPS Agreement, was circulated to WTO members for formal adoption. A deadline of December 1, 2007 was set for members to accept the permanent amendment. For the amendment to be put into effect, at least two-thirds of members must formally adopt it.

On November 30, 2007, Peter Mandelson, the then European Union's Trade Commissioner, announced that the European Union formally accepted the World Trade Organization -approved protocol of December 2005, amending the TRIPS Agreement. However, in order for the decision to have legal effect, two-thirds of the WTO's 153 Members are required to ratify the agreement. The current total of Members accepting the amendment is 45.[2]

In 2008 a decision was made to extend the deadline for accepting the TRIPS agreement amendment. The deadline was extended until 31 December 2009 or "such later date as may be decided by the Ministerial Conference." [3] The General Council further extended the deadline in 2011 to 31 December 2013.[4]


The Doha Declaration received positive reception, with many public health officials considering it an important step in prioritizing public health over intellectual property rights "in certain situations."[5] However, other issues and hindrances to medication access still exist, such as a lack of resources and infrastructure.[5] Pascal Lamy, who was the European Commissioner for Trade at the time of the declaration, stated that the agreement "solved about 10 percent of the problem of access to medicines by developing countries."[5]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ WTO website, 'Members accepting amendment of the TRIPS Agreement', available at
  3. ^
  4. ^ See supra note 2.
  5. ^ a b c Gutner, Tamar (2017). International organizations in world politics. Los Angeles. p. 199. ISBN 9781568029245. OCLC 944138044.

External links

Access to medicines

Access to medicines refers to the reasonable ability for people to get needed medicines required to achieve health. Such access is deemed to be part of the right to health as supported by international law since 1946.The World Health Organization states that essential medicines should be available, of good quality, and accessible. Reasonable access to medicines can be in conflict with intellectual property and free markets. In the developing world people may not get treatment for conditions like HIV/AIDS.

Addis Ababa Action Agenda

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was the outcome of the 2015 Third International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was adopted by heads of state and government on 15 July 2015. 174 United Nations member states sent delegations; 28 heads of State, vice presidents and heads of government attended. Governments were joined by the heads of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO), prominent business and civil society leaders, and other stakeholders. The agreement is a follow-up to the 2002 Monterrey Consensus and the 2008 Doha Declaration on Financing for Development.

Appellate Body

The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTOAB) is a standing body of seven persons that hears appeals from reports issued by panels in disputes brought on by WTO members. The WTOAB can uphold, modify or reverse the legal findings and conclusions of a panel, and Appellate Body Reports, once adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), must be accepted by the parties to the dispute. The WTOAB has its seat in Geneva, Switzerland. It has been termed by at least one journalist as "effectively the supreme court of world trade".

Brandt Report

The Brandt Report is the report written by the Independent Commission, first chaired by Willy Brandt (the former German Chancellor) in 1980, to review international development issues. The result of this report provided an understanding of drastic differences in the economic development for both the North and South hemispheres of the world.

Compulsory license

A compulsory license provides that the owner of a patent or copyright licenses the use of their rights against payment either set by law or determined through some form of adjudication or arbitration. In essence, under a compulsory license, an individual or company seeking to use another's intellectual property can do so without seeking the rights holder's consent, and pays the rights holder a set fee for the license. This is an exception to the general rule under intellectual property laws that the intellectual property owner enjoys exclusive rights that it may license – or decline to license – to others.

Under UK patent law, a compulsory license is different from a statutory license. Under statutory license, the rate is fixed by law, whereas in case of compulsory license, the rate is left to be negotiated.

Dispute Settlement Body

The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) makes decisions on trade disputes between governments that are adjudicated by the Organization. Its decisions generally match those of the Dispute Panel.

Ellen 't Hoen

Ellen F. M. 't Hoen (born 1960) was until end 2008 the policy and advocacy director of the Médecins sans Frontières campaign for the access to essential medicines. She has trained as a lawyer (master's degree from Amsterdam University) and a social worker, but has spent the main part of her professional life as an activist for patients rights and more equitable pharmaceutical policies.

She won several awards for her work on the effects of exposure to the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES)

in the 1980s and 1990s, including the prestigious Harriet Freezerring award in 1989.

She is currently also a research fellow at the University of Amsterdam doing research on the implementation of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.

After working, amongst others, for Health Action International she joined Médecins sans Frontières access campaign in 1999.

In 1981 she co-founded DES Action the Netherlands. In 1990 she joined Health Action International to head the policy and campaigns unit. From 1996 until 1999 she was the international coordinator of the independent medicines journal La Revue Prescrire/Prescrire International and the International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB).

She is an expert in medicines policy and intellectual property law and has been a consultant to a number of countries and international organisations.

In 2005 and 2006 she was listed as one of the 50 most influential people in intellectual property in the world by the journal Managing Intellectual Property.

Until May 1, 2012, 't Hoen was the first executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool, co-founded by UNITAID.


The G90, otherwise known as the Group of 90, is an alliance between the poorest and smallest developing countries, many of whom are part of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The G90 emerged as a strong grouping at the WTO’s Ministerial conference at Cancun in September 2003, taking common positions representing the largest number of countries, with 64 of the 90 countries in the G90 being members of the WTO. It is the largest trading body in the WTO, and it was formed as an umbrella body including the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP), the African Union, and the group of Least Developed Countries (LDC).

Monterrey Consensus

The Monterrey Consensus was the outcome of the 2002 Monterrey Conference, the United Nations International Conference on Financing for Development. in Monterrey, Mexico. It was adopted by Heads of State and Government on 22 March 2002. Over fifty Heads of State and two hundred Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Development and Trade participated in the event. Governments were joined by the Heads of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO), prominent business and civil society leaders and other stakeholders. New development aid commitments from the United States and the European Union and other countries were made at the conference. Countries also reached agreements on other issues, including debt relief, fighting corruption, and policy coherence.

Since its adoption the Monterrey Consensus has become the major reference point for international development cooperation. The document embraces six areas of Financing for Development:

Mobilizing domestic financial resources for development.

Mobilizing international resources for development: foreign direct investment and other private flows.

International Trade as an engine for development.

Increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development.

External Debt.

Addressing systemic issues: enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development.Some critics suggest that the US has ignored the Monterrey Consensus because the amount of US official development assistance (0.18% of its gross domestic product in 2008), is still well below the 0.7% target, which it endorsed in the Consensus. It is much lower than some other developed countries, especially those in Northern Europe. The United Kingdom, for example, reached its target of giving at least 0.7% of GNI in official aid in 2014.The Monterrey Consensus was updated at Doha, Qatar in 2008, and again at Addis Ababa in 2015.

Non-Agricultural Market Access

The Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations of the World Trade Organization are based on the Doha Declaration of 2001 that calls for a reduction or elimination in tariffs, particularly on exportable goods of interest to developing countries. NAMA covers manufacturing products, fuel and mining products, fish and fish products, and forestry products. These products are not covered by the Agreement on Agriculture or the negotiations on services.

The WTO considers the NAMA negotiations important because NAMA products account for almost 90% of the world's merchandise exports.

Peace Clause

Trade negotiators generally refer to Article 13 of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Agriculture as the Peace Clause. Article 13 holds that domestic support measures and export subsidies of a WTO Member that are legal under the provisions of the Agreement on Agriculture cannot be challenged by other WTO Members on grounds of being illegal under the provisions of another WTO agreement.

The Peace Clause has expired on January 1, 2004. It is now possible, therefore, for developing countries and nations favoring free trade in agricultural goods, such as the Cairns Group, to use the WTO dispute settlement mechanism in order to challenge, in particular, U.S. and EU export subsidies on agricultural products.

Another temporary peace clause was made at the WTO Bali conference in December 2013. It stipulated that no country would be legally barred from food security programs for its own people even if the subsidy breached the limits specified in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.

TRIPS Agreement

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It sets down minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of many forms of intellectual property (IP) as applied to nationals of other WTO member nations. TRIPS was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) between 1989 and 1990 and is administered by the WTO.

The TRIPS agreement introduced intellectual property law into the multilateral trading system for the first time and remains the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property to date. In 2001, developing countries, concerned that developed countries were insisting on an overly narrow reading of TRIPS, initiated a round of talks that resulted in the Doha Declaration. The Doha declaration is a WTO statement that clarifies the scope of TRIPS, stating for example that TRIPS can and should be interpreted in light of the goal "to promote access to medicines for all."

Specifically, TRIPS requires WTO members to provide copyright rights, covering authors and other copyright holders, as well as holders of related rights, namely performers, sound recording producers and broadcasting organisations; geographical indications; industrial designs; integrated circuit layout-designs; patents; new plant varieties; trademarks; trade names and undisclosed or confidential information. TRIPS also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures. Protection and enforcement of all intellectual property rights shall meet the objectives to contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.

Timeline of the World Trade Organization

This is a timeline of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

The United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is a United Nations sponsored congress on the topics of crime, crime prevention and criminal justice, held every five years. It is organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).The event was initially held in 1955, following the dissolution of the International Penal and Penitentiary Commission (IPPC) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950. Initially called the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, the current name was adopted in 2005.The antecedents of the Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice include the First International Congress on the Prevention and Repression of Crime, held at London in 1872.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1996

The World Trade Organization's Ministerial Conference of 1996 was held in Singapore on December 9 - December 13, 1996. The inaugural meeting for the organisation since its formation. The event was hosted by the government of Singapore at the Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Suntec City.

The conference established four permanent working groups: transparency in government procurement, trade facilitation (customs issues), trade and investment, and trade and competition. These groups collectively are called the Singapore issues.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1998

The Second Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization was held in Geneva, Switzerland between 18 and 20 May 1998.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2001

The Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, also known as the WTO Fourth Ministerial Conference, was held at the Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort, Doha, Qatar from November 9–13, 2001. At this conference, ministers from all WTO members launched the Doha Development Agenda.

At the 2001 conference, trade ministers agreed to undertake a brand new round of multilateral trade negotiations and services The ministers passed two declarations. The first, the main declaration folded the ongoing negotiations in agriculture and services into a broader agenda, which is commonly known as the Doha Development Round. In addition. the Doha agenda included the topic of industrial tariffs, topics of interest to developing countries, changes to WTO rules, and other provisions. The second declaration dealt with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and allow government to be flexible of TRIPS to deal with health problems.The meeting took place just two months after the World Trade Center attack. As a result, some government officials called for greater political cohesion and saw the trade negotiations as a means toward that end. Some officials thought that a new round of multilateral trade negotiations could help a world economy weakened by recession

and terrorism-related uncertainty.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2009

The WTO General Council, on 26 May 2009, agreed to hold a seventh WTO ministerial conference session in Geneva from 30 November - 3 December 2009. A statement by chairman Amb. Mario Matus acknowledged that the prime purpose was to remedy a breach of protocol requiring two-yearly "regular" meetings, which had lapsed with the Doha Round failure in 2005, and that the "scaled-down" meeting would not be a negotiating session, but "emphasis will be on transparency and open discussion rather than on small group processes and informal negotiating structures". The general theme for discussion is "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment".

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2017

The 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 11 to 13 December 2017. It was chaired by Minister Susana Malcorra of Argentina. The Conference ended with a number of ministerial decisions, including on fisheries subsidies and e-commerce duties, and a commitment to continue negotiations in all areas. The conference also led to the formation of working party to enable faster induction of South Sudan in the WTO.


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