Human Rights Groups Complain About Special 301 Process
from the not-just-a-joke dept
Over and over again, I've heard various government officials and lawyers -- even those who are generally supportive of our current intellectual property regime -- scoff or roll their eyes about the Special 301 report. It's basically considered a joke by nearly everyone. However, when a joke is costing people lives and access to necessary medicine, then perhaps it becomes a serious problem. A group of Human Rights organizations have come together to challenge the Special 301 process, saying that it's being used to push policies that go beyond what the law requires, and which are causing real harm worldwide. They're saying this actually violates our human rights obligations:
"Since its inception in 1988, the United States Trade Representative's "Special 301" adjudication of foreign intellectual property law standards has been used to promote policies restricting access to affordable medications around the world. President-elect Obama released a platform promising to "break the stranglehold that a few big drug and insurance companies have on these life-saving drugs" and pledged support for "the rights of sovereign nations to access quality-assured, low-cost generic medication to meet their pressing public health needs." The 2009 and 2010 Special 301 reports, however, indicate that the Obama Administration has not yet implemented this pledge. Although the 2010 Report shows some improvement, the Obama Administration continues using Special 301 to pressure developing countries to adopt escalating intellectual property rules that are not required by any international agreement and that will negatively impact access to medicines. This complaint will allege that the continuation of Special 301 attacks on policies promoting access to affordable medicaitons abroad violates international human rights obligations."So if we're going to argue over "international obligations" (which I tend to find to be a red herring in most cases), and two sets are conflicting... which are more important? International obligations on human rights? Or the ones protecting a few big conglomerates from competition?