Letter signed by more than 220 groups demands WTO trade ministers not accept current TRIPS waiver draft

Draft ministerial decision on intellectual property waiver woefully inadequate.

Switzerland © Lara Dovifat/MSF

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and more than 220 civil society organizations—including People's Vaccine Alliance, Oxfam, and Section27 of South Africa—called today on trade ministers at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva to not accept the current draft of the ministerial decision on the TRIPS agreement.

If adopted as it stands, this problematic version of an intellectual property (IP) waiver on COVID-19 medical tools would essentially only waive certain IP on COVID-19 vaccines—leaving people across the world without access to lifesaving treatments and tests. Instead, WTO members must reject this version and adopt the original version of the waiver that was proposed 20 months ago to lift IP monopolies on all medical tools.

Open letter to Trade Ministers at the WTO

June 15, 2022

Re: Joint civil society organizations call to all WTO trade ministers to not accept the current draft of ministerial decision on the TRIPS agreement and demand a real waiver

Your Excellencies,

As civil society organizations, we call on all trade ministers to negotiate an effective and meaningful TRIPS waiver that covers all major IP rights on all COVID-19 medical products for all people. This is not what is currently proposed in the draft ministerial decision on the TRIPS agreement (WT/MIN(22)/W/15). We, therefore, call on you to not accept the current proposed COVID-19 decision on the TRIPS agreement as it does not deliver a meaningful global response to the pandemic and fails to uphold many of the key founding principles of the WTO, including non-discriminatory treatment by and among members, and transparency.

People continue to die from COVID-19 without access to lifesaving treatments. It is, therefore, indefensible that the draft ministerial decision does not immediately apply to all COVID-19 medical tools, including therapeutics and diagnostics. The failure of the text to address IP barriers beyond patents severely limits its effectiveness in increasing production and supply.

The draft ministerial decision is discriminatory as it arbitrarily excludes some of the world’s largest producers of medical tools and “encourages developing countries with export capacity to opt out” from using the proposed decision to produce and supply medical tools. This is contradictory and counterproductive to saving people’s lives by ensuring the access to medical tools they need.

It is unacceptable that the text restricts the free movement and rapid distribution of needed medical products during a global pandemic by imposing a ban on re-exportation of COVID-19 vaccines produced under the decision. This restriction cannot be justified.

Under the guise of "clarifying" existing flexibilities under the TRIPS agreement, the proposed text risks adding restrictions and complex bureaucratic conditions resulting in hurdles to the production and supply of COVID-19 medical tools. These, together with never-before required time limits and product limits applied to clarifying the existing public health flexibilities, would set a negative precedent for responses to future health challenges.

The process to reach the current draft text has been flawed, discriminatory, and lacking in transparency. It has given outsized influence to the opponents of additional IP flexibilities while limiting, or even excluding, the voice of some countries hit hardest by inequality in access to COVID-19 technologies. In addition, civil society organizations have not been able to participate meaningfully in the process and have been criticized for raising legitimate concerns.

The draft ministerial decision on the TRIPS agreement is inadequate and contradictory to the WTO’s foundational principles, and results from a flawed and exclusionary process. We therefore call on you, as trade ministers, to not accept this current text and demand a real and effective TRIPS waiver, as originally proposed under IP/C/W/669/Rev.1, delivered via democratic, transparent, and accountable negotiations.

1.    11.11.11
2.    ABIA (Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS)
3.    Access to medicines Ireland
4.    Access to Medicines Research Group
5.    ACT Alliance EU
6.    Action against AIDS Germany
7.    ActionAid Australia
8.    ActionAid International
9.    Activist Education and Development Centre (AEDC)
10.    Advocates of hope for community
11.    AEDC
12.    African Alliance
13.    African community advisory board
14.    Afro Global Alliance
15.    Afrocab Treatment Access Partnership
16.    AGANIM - Associação de Gays e Amigues de Mesquita, Nova Iguaçu e RJ
17.    Agape Integrated Farms
18.    AgroEco Louisbolk Institute
19.    Agus Sarwono
20.    AHF Mexico
21.    AIDS Access Foundation
22.    AKCC
23.    Albergue las Memorias Asociacion Civil
24.    Almusadat foundation for women and youth initiative
25.    Ambassadors for youths and reproductive program
26.    Americas TB Coalition
27.    Amnesty International
28.    Anaids
29.    Artb Mexico
30.    ASEGO HBC
31.    Asociación por un acceso justo al medicamento, AAJM, Spain
32.    Associação brasileira interdisciplinar de AIDS
33.    Association for Proper Internet Governance
34.    Association of Positive Youth Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (APYIN)
35.    Association of Women of Southern Europe AFEM
36.    Attac Austria
37.    Attac Norway
38.    Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network
39.    Beyond Initiative For Social Concern - Kenya
40.    Blanca Estela Rodríguez Jaramillo
41.    Both ENDS
42.    Brazilian Interdisciplinary Aids Association (ABIA)
43.    Bread for the World
44.    Brussels International Center
45.    BUKO Pharma-Kampagne
46.    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
47.    Cancer alliance
48.    CAPI
49.    CCC men support group
50.    Center Tolerance and Peace
51.    Centre for Healthcare and Economic Empowerment for Women and Youth
52.    Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
53.    Changu Ni Chema Cbo
54.    Child is gold foundation
55.    Child Way Uganda
56.    Children Rights Information Network-Kenya
57.    CITAMplus
58.    Citizen Health Initiative.
59.    Citizen Home and In Diaspora
60.    Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development (HEPS Uganda)
61.    Coalition of Women Living with HIIV in Malawi
62.    Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti civili (Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights - CILD)
63.    Collectif Urgence Toxida
64.    Coltmr Ci
65.    Common Frontiers
66.    Compromiso Universitario por la Salud A.C.
67.    Consilium Scientific
68.    Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Association (CCRDA)
69.    Consumer Associatyion the Quality of Life-EKPIZO
70.    Contentativa
71.    DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era)
72.    Deutsche Allianz Klimawandel und Gesundheit e.V. - KLUG
73.    Discordant couple's welfare group
74.    Doctors for Vaccine Equity
75.    Drugs For Neglected Diseases Initiative - DNDi
76.    Education Assistance and Charity Organization (EACO)
77.    Elimisha Vijana Iniative
78.    ELSA Foundation
79.    Emergency
80.    Emmanuel HBC
81.    Equal Health
82.    Federação Nacional doe Farmacêuticos
83.    Federasi Perjuangan Buruh Indonesia
84.    Focus on the Global South
85.    Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung
86.    Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR)
87.    Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo, Argentina
88.    Fundación IFARMA
89.    Funsalbarme
90.    Global Citizen
91.    Global Health Advocates
92.    Global Humanitarian Progress Corporation GHP Corp
93.    Global Justice Now
94.    Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+)
95.    GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation
96.    Grupo de Amigos con Vih AC
97.    Grupo de Trabalho sobre Propriedade intelectual GTPI
98.    Gubio Community Progressive Initiative, Gubio
99.    Health Action International (HAI)
100.    Health GAP
101.    Health Justice Initiative - South Africa
102.    Health Poverty Action
103.    HIV Legal Network
104.    Human Initiative
105.    Human Rights Watch
106.    Ichange
107.    Indonesia AIDS Coalition
108.    Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ)
109.    Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) West Java Chapter
110.    Indonesia students union (Serikat Mahasiswa Indonesia)
111.    Initiative for Social and Economic Rights
112.    Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
113.    International community of women living with HIV -kenya chapter
114.    International Trade Union Confederation
115.    International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC)
116.    International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) Global
117.    Ire- Oluwa Foundation For Youth Children And Women Development Initiative
118.    IT for Change
119.    ITPC-LATCA
120.    Jaringan Indonesia Positif
121.    Just Treatment
122.    Kenya county government workers union
123.    Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS
124.    Kenya National Constitution Rights Intergeated Centre -Leadership
125.    Kenya Treatment Access Movement-KETAM
126.    Kesatuan Perjuangan Rakyat
127.    Kisumu sexworkers Aliance
128.    KLUG - German Climate and Health Alliance
130.    LaboratorioDeDatosGtk
131.    LaporCovid-19
132.    LAT-CAB
133.    Lean on Me Foundation
134.    Leona Foundation
135.    Livewell women foundation
136.    Living bread widows and widowers organisation
137.    Living hope alliance
138.    Living Hope Care for PLWHA Society
139.    LoDDCA
140.    Lydia Njeri foundation
141.    Medical Impact
142.    medico international
143.    Médicos del Mundo
144.    Mentors Youth Alliance
145.    Mombasa Women for Peace
146.    Movement Law Lab - Global Network of Movement Lawyers
147.    MSF Access Campaign
148.    Mwamba orphan education center
150.    Nakuru women peace and security
151.    National Empowerment of Positive Women United
152.    Nelson Mandela Foundation
153.    Nelson Mandela TB HIV Community Information CBO
154.    NEPHAK
155.    NEPOTEHC (Network of Post Test HIV and Aids Community Organization)
156.    NEPWHAN
157.    Network for Empowerment in Rural Areas and Townships (NERAT)
158.    Network of TB Champions Kenya
159.    Nurture Culture Society Kenya
160.    Oxfam
161.    Pacific Network on Globalisation
162.    Pamoja TB group
163.    People's Health Movement
164.    People's Health Movement South Africa
165.    People's Vaccine Alliance
166.    Persaudaraan Korban NAPZA Indonesia
167.    Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation
168.    PLAN Health Advocacy and Development Foundation
169.    Ppd
170.    Project Organising Development Education And Research
171.    Public Citizen
172.    Public Eye
173.    Public Services International
174.    Rekat Peduli Indonesia
175.    Réseau Accès aux Médicaments Essentiels
176.    Réseau québécois pour une mondialisation inclusive (RQMI)
177.    Rethink Trade
178.    Right to Health Action
179.    Rumah Cemara
180.    Salud por Derecho
181.    Salud y Farmacos USA
182.    Samaritan care and Support initiative
183.    Section27
184.    SMIT TB Patients Association, Moldova
185.    SOCIAL Medicine Consortium- Uganda Chapter
186.    Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights)
187.    Southern and East African Trade Institute (SEATINI South Africa)
188.    St Columba's Presbyterian Church Hatfield
189.    St Hemmingways Community Based organization
190.    Stop TB Partnership Indonesia
191.    Stop TB Partnership Kenya
192.    STOPAIDS
193.    SumOfUs
194.    Sundial Merchants
195.    Swaziland Migrant Mineworkers Association
196.    Talaku Community Organization
197.    Tender And Care Of Plhiv Jenya
198.    The PRAKARSA
199.    Torro Center For Care And Support For Adolescents Children And Women
200.    Trade Justice Education Fund
201.    Trade Justice Network
202.    Transparency International Indonesia
203.    Treatment Action Group
204.    Tuberculosis Social Observatory Mexico
205.    Uganda Peace Foundation
206.    Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
207.    Univ. of Toronto
208.    Universal Relief Foundation
209.    Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
210.    Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group
211.    Vacunas para la gente (PVA LAC)
212.    Verein demokratischer Pharmazeutinnen und Pharmazeuten VdPP
213.    Vietnam Network fof People living with HIV (VNP+)
214.    Wemos
215.    Women fighting AIDS in Kenya
216.    Women in peace network
217.    Women's rights Advancement and protection alternative WRAPA
218.    World Vision Deutschland e.V.
219.    Wote Youth Development Projects
220.    Yayasan Spiritia
221.    Youth Foundation of Bangladesh
222.    ZCBTA
223.    ZeroCovid (DACh)

*This letter was updated on June 16 to reflect additional signatories.