Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
413.   The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for the communities and economies worldwide, causing a profound effect on the lives of millions of people all over the world. 414.   Despite multilateral commitments and political declarations of solidarity and cooperation to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccine, it has not been practiced by all Members of the international community. The vaccine nationalism approach, and self-centred political behaviour of leaving others behind in access to the necessary tools to respond to the pandemic will remain as one of the major moral and political failures of our era. 415.   An effective response to the current health and economic crisis should be guided by values of genuine international solidarity, multilateralism, equality, and global collaboration in practice. Global solidarity is not only morally right, but also offers the best and quickest way to end the heath crisis. 416.   We firmly believe that the intellectual property objectives must be balanced against realizing the right to health, of which access to health products and technologies including diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, medical devices and their materials or components and their methods and means of manufacture for the prevention, treatment or containment of COVID-19 medicines and other health products is a central part. The provisions of TRIPS should be interpreted and applied in such a way as not to impede the access to vaccine and transfer of technology to developing countries, especially in the face of international health emergencies. Accordingly, we support the joint proposal by South Africa and India for waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. It certainly would be an effective way to end the COVID-19 pandemic and return to normalcy through ensuring the scaling of the production of pharmaceutical inputs, allowing the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to ensure timely, sufficient, equitable and affordable access to all technologies developed to fight COVID-19. 417.   The adoption of the revised waiver proposal will overcome potential obstacles that some categories of intellectual property rights may create to get timely and unfettered access to technologies and products needed to address the pandemic. It will not affect, however, the enforcement of other categories of rights covered by the TRIPS Agreement, nor its full implementation in relation to matters unrelated to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19. Therefore, the adoption of this proposal is critical to ensure availability of medical products at affordable prices for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. 418.   Having said that, due to the urgency of the matter, it is necessary to convene as many meetings as possible to reach consensus on the joint proposal by South Africa and India through text-based discussion before General Council meeting in July.
54. The Chair recalled that the last formal meeting on 30 April had been dedicated to the "Proposal for a Waiver from Certain Provisions of The TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of Covid-19" had been circulated by India and South Africa on 2 October 2020. It had since been co-sponsored by the delegations of Kenya, Eswatini, Mozambique, Pakistan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, the African Group, the LDC Group, the Maldives, Fiji, Namibia, Vanuatu, Indonesia and Jordan.
55. Since the formal meeting on 30 April, the co-sponsors had circulated a joint statement on 17 May 2021, which had been circulated in document IP/C/W/677, and a revised decision text for the proposed waiver on 21 May 2021, which had been circulated in document IP/C/W/669/Rev.1.
56. At the request of co-sponsors, the Council had held an open-ended informal meeting on 31 May where the co-sponsors presented the revised proposal, and Members had had a first opportunity to exchange views on the revised proposal. He said that, at the conclusion of the meeting, he had noted that a large number of delegations had called for the commencement of text-based negotiations, and that he had appealed to those Members to come forward with their suggestions regarding practical modalities and formats for such a process. To Members that had indicated that they were still examining the revised proposal, he had expressed his hope that they would be in a position to engage in a more substantive discussion at the formal Council meeting. To Members that had indicated their intention to present concrete proposals in the near future, he had urged them to submit such proposals sooner rather than later in order to enrich the Council's deliberations, and given the urgency of this issue as underlined by most Members.
57. He said that he had also reminded Members that the next regular formal meeting of the Council was scheduled for 13-14 October, and that Members should reflect on how the Council should report to the next General Council meeting scheduled for 21-22 July. In addition to comments related to the substance of the proposal before the Council, he invited delegations to express their views on how this issue should be taken forward, so that he and the Secretariat could make appropriate arrangements.
58. The representatives of South Africa; Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; Mongolia; Malaysia; Fiji; Egypt; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Indonesia; Bangladesh; Australia; Mexico; the Plurinational State of Bolivia; the European Union; the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; Paraguay; Maldives; Chinese Taipei; the Republic of Korea; Nepal; Turkey; Canada; Chile; Singapore; Jordan; New Zealand; Vanuatu; Ukraine; Norway; China; Hong Kong, China; Brazil; the United Kingdom; Switzerland; Japan; the Russian Federation; El Salvador; Mozambique; Philippines; Angola; Jamaica; the United States; Peru; Argentina; Chad on behalf of the LDC Group; Viet Nam; Namibia; the European Union; India; and Iran took the floor.
59. The Chair said that while he detected continuing disagreement about certain fundamental questions regarding the issues underlying the waiver – and remaining questions on the revised provisions on scope and termination – he had also not heard any objections to engaging in a textbased process on the waiver proposal. In light of the urgency of the matter, he would consult with Members regarding the timing and format of such a process, which could have the General Council scheduled for 21-22 July as a natural target date. Such a process would always need to respect the principles of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. With this in mind, he was planning to convene an open-ended informal meeting on 17 June 2021 to inform Members on his consultations on the matter until that time, and on the possible process leading up to July.
60. He echoed the Director-General in saying that the issue of equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics was both the moral and economic issue of our time, and an issue which needed to be addressed with urgency. He said that that Members shared the common goal of providing equitable access to these products for the global population as soon as possible, even if they differ on where to place the emphasis of this endeavour. He was hopeful that in continuing urgent and focused discussion on the IP issues relevant to the pandemic, Members could soon agree on pragmatic solutions to any problems that can directly improve Members' pandemic response.
61. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/100, IP/C/M/100/Add.1