November 11, 2001
November 11, 2001 — We call on the WTO Members at the Doha Ministerial Conference to endorse an interpretation of the TRIPS Agreement that protects public health. This declaration will determine whether people living in developing countries will be supported in measures to gain access to life saving drugs.
We support the leadership declared by the 71 countries of the African, Pacific, and Caribbean Countries, that the Ministerial Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health must state that "nothing in the TRIPS Agreement shall prevent governments from taking measures to protect public health". Given the support among Latin American and Asian countries, it is clear that the majority of WTO Members now support this proposal.
At a minimum, the declaration on TRIPS and Public Health should affirm the following points:
A declaration that excludes any of these points calls TRIPS into question. Without a strong declaration on TRIPS and public health, countries will be asked to implement intellectual property rules that harm the public health. This is unacceptable.
Language to be avoided in the Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health includes:
We urge the developed countries, particularly the United States, Japan, and Switzerland, to withdraw their opposition to developing country proposals.
We also call on the EU to stop shirking its responsibility in taking the so-called "middle ground" in this debate. Instead of demonstrating its support for the developing countries, the EU has chosen to play the role of an "honest broker" to bridge the difference between the developing countries and the US-hardline position. The EU has to choose its side now—either there is a clear statement on the primacy of public health, or there is not.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)