The upcoming WTO Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council) meets on 8-9 June 2010 (next Tuesday and Wednesday); Martin Glass (Hong Kong) is the current chair of the TRIPS Council. Access to attend WTO TRIPS Council meetings is only granted to WTO Members and organizations with observer status to the TRIPS Council (such as the World Health Organization); consequently, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are not permitted to observe the proceedings of the TRIPS Council. At stake in next week’s WTO deliberations is ensuring that the spirit of the Doha Declaration and the public health safeguards embedded in the TRIPS Agreement are not eroded by the concerted enforcement agenda promoted the European Union, the United States, Switzerland and Japan in ACTA and other fora.
Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Indonesia and Venezuela specifically requested the TRIPS Council to hold a discussion item on the implementation of the Paragraph 6 mechanism at the June meeting. In addition, China and India requested the Council to hold a discussion item on TRIPS plus enforcement efforts. At previous meetings of the TRIPS Council, the Obama administration was the lone holdout in blocking consensus for the WTO to convene a technical workshop on reviewing the implementation of Paragraph 6, a mechanism designed to facilitate an expeditious solution for countries with ‘insufficient or no manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector from making effective use of compulsory licensing under the TRIPS Agreement’ (Paragraph 6, Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health). In the context of the the ongoing ACTA negotiations (the next meeting is in Luzerne from June 28-July 2) and the recent request by India and Brazil for consultations with the European Union over the seizures of generic drugs in transit, the forthcoming TRIPS Council marks a test for WTO members’ commitment to public health.