The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this morning discussed a draft statement on intellectual property and human rights which will be its preliminary contribution to the rapidly evolving debate on intellectual property.
According to the five paragraphs which have so far been adopted out of the 17-paragraph draft statement, the Committee says that it aims only to identify some of the key human rights principles deriving from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that are required to be taken into account in the development and interpretation of contemporary intellectual property regimes.
The draft statement emphasizes that the Committee recognizes the broad significance of creation, ownership and control of intellectual property in a knowledge-based economy and the means it can afford for promoting the enjoyment of human rights, in particular the rights under the International Covenant. The allocation rights over intellectual property have significant economic, social and cultural consequences that might affect the enjoyment of human rights.
The draft statement notes that the principles that it sets out apply equally to national legislation and to international rules and policies concerning intellectual property protection. During the discussion, the inclusion of the biodiversity convention pertaining to indigenous peoples was emphasized. The Committee Expert who raised the issue stressed that its inclusion was significant to the developing countries. The Committee, in particular, drew attention to the various intellectual property treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as well as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of the World Trade Organization, which set out minimum standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property.
The draft statement says that article 15.1(c) of the Covenant, together with article 27 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, require the protection of the moral and material interests of authors in their works with the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific advancement and other cultural rights. The Committee considered those intellectual property rights should be along with the right to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its application.
Referring to the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, the draft statement says that human rights are derived from the inherent dignity and worth of all persons, with the human persons as the central subject and as the primary beneficiary of human rights. The moral and legal guarantees of fundamental freedoms, protection, and entitlements both derived from and supported people's self-respect and dignity. Consequently, the entire range of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, as well as the right to development, were relevant to intellectual property systems.
On 27 November 2000, the Committee held a day of general discussion on article 15.1(c) of the International Covenant on the right of everyone "to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interest resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author", which formed a basis for the Committee's drafting of a statement. The Committee has also resolved to prepare and adopt a General Comment on intellectual property and human rights.
Representatives of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Rights also took part in the discussion.
The Committee will continue its debate on the draft text when it reconvenes at 3 p.m.
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