Governments negotiating at the WTO must stand strong against problematic draft decision text at ministerial conference and work to agree on a real Waiver
Geneva, 11 June 2022
Background: Yesterday, 20 months since India and South Africa first proposed a landmark intellectual property (IP) Waiver for COVID medical tools at the World Trade Organization (WTO), an interim draft decision document was published from which governments are expected to finalise an outcome text at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference next week (12 – 15 June). This draft decision text is far from the IP Waiver for COVID medical tools that the world needs and may end up setting a negative precedent, including by backsliding on public health safeguards that are currently enshrined in global trade rules.
Candice Sehoma, MSF Access Campaign’s Advocacy Advisor for South Africa:
“We are extremely disappointed to see that even after 20 months of deliberations and more than 15 million deaths due to COVID, the negotiations are still eons away from ensuring access to lifesaving COVID medical tools for everyone, everywhere. The draft decision text is based on a problematic text from early May and is substantively different from the real Waiver proposal we have been supporting. What we’re seeing so far is some limited changes, not real progress.
Any decision at the WTO next week will set a precedent that will impact efforts to increase people’s access to lifesaving medical tools now and in the future. It is not yet too late to agree on a real Waiver over the coming days. It is imperative that governments stand strong against the inclusion of problematic provisions and strive for an agreement that adequately overcomes intellectual property and restrictive pharmaceutical corporation licensing so that countries can be more self-reliant in providing all COVID medical tools to their people, which is the intention of the original TRIPS Waiver proposal.
If governments agree on an outcome text that fails to include all essential medical tools, all countries, and all major intellectual property issues, then it will be both a failure to ensure that people have access to lifesaving medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tests during this pandemic, and will set a deadly precedent for future global health crises.”