On Thursday, 15 December 2016, South Africa delivered this poignant, closing statement at WIPO’s Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP). Negotiations broke down on the issue of future work, as the European Union and Group B refused to permit discussions of the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines at future sessions of the SCP.
According to the WIPO website,
The SCP was created in 1998 to serve as a forum to discuss issues, facilitate coordination and provide guidance concerning the progressive international development of patent law. By dealing with clusters of interlocking issues rather than working in isolation on single issues, it is intended to provide member states with an effective mechanism for setting priorities and allocating resources, and ensure the coordination and continuity of interrelated, on-going work. (Source: http://www.wipo.int/policy/en/scp/)
The South African statement is reproduced in full.
We align ourselves with the statement of Nigeria on behalf of the Africa Group. We thank you for your efforts over the past days.
We as well are quite baffled by the resistance of some developed countries to discuss issues that clearly fall within the spectra of this Committee.
It is very important that this Committee continues to discuss problems identified in the patent system, particularly where such problems threatens to violate the integrity and legitimacy of the system of patent rights and related duties.
The just released report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Innovation and Access to Health Technologies has identified such problems, and serious problems for that matter, and therefore that report deserves to be discussed in this Committee, at the least, otherwise this Committee will be abrogating its duties.
We see this failure to reach consensus on future work, particularly on patents and health, as a loss, especially for developing and least developed countries which continue to grapple with issues of lack of access to essential, life-saving medicines, resulting in senseless deaths.
I thank you Madam Chair