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Analysis of the Role of South-South Cooperation to Promote Governance on Intellectual Property Rights and Development

South Centre

By Ermias Tekeste Biadgleng
South Centre Research Paper 14


The economic, political, and social dimensions of IP rights demonstrate the sharp contrast in the interests of the technological advanced North and the developing South. Since the adoption of the TRIPS Agreement, the North continues to push for higher IP rights protection and enforcement. The South has reflected some level of political unity at the international level on IP norm-setting processes driven by the need for innovation, technological development and to address critical socio-economic problems. However, the South has had limited success in advancing a common agenda, and individual efforts are often disjointed or challenged by pressure from the North. The Research paper discusses the role of South-South cooperation for promotion of governance on IP rights and technological development. It has identified the problems on IP rights norm setting and technological development that consist of:

1) the conflicting role of different actors at the multilateral level, namely, the WTO, WIPO and the UN, that result in fragmentation of policy making on development, technology and IP;

2) the impact of TRIPS on governance, on IP rights norm setting and, the weak legal structure it has adopted to handle the North-South tension on IP rights protection in a balanced manner;

3) the relatively limited developments of policies and norms that are supported by developing countries in multilateral and bilateral negotiations, as a result of the above-mentioned factors and, the exercise of political and economic leverage by the developed countries against their weak partners;

4) the sharp contrast of interest between the North and the South on the expansion of the protection of IP, on the one hand, and promotion of local innovation and access to technology for development, on the other hand;

5) weak coordination, partnership and leadership among developing countries, despite similarity of interests, and lack of binding norms among developing countries; and,

6) the technical and analytical nature of organizations working on South-South Cooperation.

The key questions are: 1) what lessons can be learned from the experience of developing countries on IP and technology related multilateral negotiations and 2) how and in what areas can South-South cooperation function as a tool to compliment the efforts of developing countries. It is submitted that South-South Cooperation, based on agreed principles and objectives, can play a strong complementary role to multilateral, regional and bilateral norm-setting on IP rights. The Research paper has been prepared on the basis of analysing the international legal instruments, reviewing the literature, and, the debates in international organizations.

External Link: Analysis of the Role of South-South Cooperation to Promote Governance on Intellectual Property Rights and Development

Read More: Globalization, Governance, Health, Technology, Trade, Global

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