Global Civil Society Letter to Roberto Azevêdo on Yemen’s Accession Commitments on IP

Delivery date: 
28 November, 2013

 

Mr. Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo,

Director General

World Trade Organization

cc: H.E. Mr. Shahid BASHIR,

Chairperson,

General Council of the WTO

 

 Dear Mr. Azevêdo,

The undersigned organizations are writing to express concerns regarding intellectual property commitments being forced on Yemen as part of its WTO accession package that will be presented for formal adoption, to the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, 3-6 December 2013.  

We understand that as part of its accession terms Yemen is required to fully implement the WTO-Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) by 31 December 2016.  This contradicts Paragraph 18 of the 2012 Accession Guidelines which explicitly reaffirms “that the Special and Differential Treatment, as set out in the Multilateral Trade Agreements, Ministerial Decisions, and other relevant WTO legal instruments, shall be applicable to all acceding LDCs from the date of entry into force of their respective Protocols of Accession”.[1]

Thus paragraph 18 of the 2012 Accession Guidelines automatically entitles acceding LDCs to transition periods granted pursuant to Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement.[2]  Article 66.1, is one of the most important Special and Differential provisions contained in the TRIPS Agreement, as it grants LDCs the flexibility they need to overcome their socio-economic constraints and to develop a viable technological base.

On 11 June 2013, the TRIPS Council adopted a decision pursuant to Article 66.1 of the Agreement, to extend the LDC TRIPS transition period until 1 July 2021. According to this Decision, LDCs “shall not be required to apply the provisions of the Agreement, other than Articles 3, 4 and 5, until 1 July 2021”. The Decision also allows further extensions beyond 1 July 2021.

The Decision also expressly recognizes the right of WTO LDC Members to make full use of the flexibilities provided by the TRIPS Agreement to address their needs. This includes the option of rolling back/undoing TRIPS consistent intellectual property (IP) protections. 

Requiring Yemen to be TRIPS compliant by the end of 2016 is a violation of the 2012 Accession Guidelines that were adopted by the WTO General Council and that recognized the entitlement of acceding countries to Special and Differential Treatment provisions that underpin the WTO architecture.

For countries to benefit from full TRIPS compliance certain basic socio-economic conditions should exist in particular a significant market, sufficient capital, qualified and skilled personnel at the firm level, innovation-oriented entrepreneurs, as well as a solid scientific and technological base. As an LDC, these conditions obviously do not exist in Yemen.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab region, with very slow progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with 32% of the population living in severe poverty. It has extremely weak infrastructure[3], and underdeveloped scientific and innovative capacities. Yemen faces massive challenges in ensuring its population has access to education, health and other basic services.[4] The economy is also caught in a jobless slow growth cycle leading to stagnant per capita incomes and rising levels of unemployment. Moreover, Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis with widespread hunger, chronic malnutrition and health problems as the country emerges from a period of civil unrest. 

Given this situation, it is unconscionable for the WTO to require Yemen to fully implement the TRIPS Agreement by 2016. It is also damaging to WTO’s credibility that it is failing to abide by its own rules, in particular paragraph 18 of the 2012 Accession Guidelines. 

Thus we urge you to take immediate measures to rectify the situation by issuing a statement confirming that the TRIPS Council Decision adopted on 11 June 2013 is applicable to Yemen and it is under no obligation to implement the TRIPS Agreement until 1 July 2021 or later if a further extension is granted pursuant to Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement.

We also urge you to ensure that all LDC countries that are in the process of acceding to the WTO are accorded transition periods consistent with TRIPS Council decisions concerning Article 66.1.

In conclusion we stress that any attempt to weaken or to refuse LDCs rights that they are entitled to will damage the credibility of the WTO and will show that the multilateral trading system does not work in the interests of the poorest and most vulnerable populations of the international community.  Even worse, such a condition will confine Yemen to technological underdevelopment and to potential overpayment for IP-protected commodities for years to come thereby imposing unnecessary hardship and human rights deprivations on some of the poorest people in the world.

SIGNATORIES

Organizations

Country

1.      Khadejh Organization  

Yemen

2.      Al yuser Association in Hosn

Yemen

3.      Yemeni Women Union 

Yemen

4.      Charitable Society for Social Welfare 

Yemen

5.      Amer&Okaba Association for Social Development

Yemen

6.      Saleh Foundation for Social Development 

Yemen

7.      Democratic Support Foundation 

Yemen

8.      General Federation of Trade Unions of Yemen

Yemen

9.      The Fishery Cooperative Union 

Yemen

10.  Soul for Development 

Yemen

11.  Altahadi Foundation for Caring & Of Disabled Females

Yemen

12.  Women Center for Culture Development & Anti- Violence 

Yemen

13.  Yemeni Family Care Association 

Yemen

14.  Gender Development Research & Studies Center 

Yemen

15.  ACU Agriculture Cooperation Union

Yemen

16.  Wejdan Feminist Association 

Yemen

17.  Almustkbal Feminist Social Association for Development 

Yemen

18.  Life Makers Foundation- Yemen  

Yemen

19.  Hail Saeed Charity Society

Yemen

20.  Alshahl Feminist Association 

Yemen

21.  Charity Association in Alghorfah Area

Yemen

22.  Feminist Charity Association for Combating  Poverty 

Yemen

23.  Zohor Charity Association 

Yemen

24.  Women Development Center 

Yemen

25.  Association of Women and Child Development

Yemen

26.  Alharth Social Association for Charity 

Yemen

27.  Salami Cooperative Association 

Yemen

28.  Feminist Union for the Rehabilitation and Training of Women 

Yemen

29.  Etqan Charitable Association  

Yemen

30.  Athar Foundation for Development 

Yemen

31.  All Girls Foundation for Development 

Yemen

32.  Al- Ferdous Women Development Society 

Yemen

33.  Waed  

Yemen

34.  The Aeen Youth Third Initiative for Social Development

Yemen

35.  Dar Al- Salam Organization Peace House in Yemen  

Yemen

36.  Namai Forum for Media Development

Yemen

37.  Family Association for Development 

Yemen

38.  Anzaz Association 

Yemen

39.  Alzarebi Feminist Association 

Yemen

40.  Zabid Feminist Charity Association

Yemen

41.  Dialogue Center for Human Rights Culture Development  

Yemen

42.  Tadhamon ASS.CH. for Development Society 

Yemen

43.  BaniAlkrebi Association for Social Development

Yemen

 

44.  Aldhameer Society For Social Development 

Yemen

45.  Almethaq Development Social Association 

Yemen

46.  AjyalMarib Social Development 

Yemen

47.  Environment& Social Development Association 

Yemen

48.  Yemen Association of Persons with Disabilities double 

Yemen

49.  Wed for Women Development 

Yemen

50.  Yemeni Association For Women Development Support 

Yemen

51.  Alethar Women Association

Yemen

52.  Sam Women Association

Yemen

53.  Al- Takamol Association for Development

Yemen

54.  Al- Ahad Feminist Social Charity Association 

Yemen

55.  The Economic and Social Development Researches Center

Yemen

56.  Women's Association for the Economic Savings and lending 

Yemen

57.  Al- Tarabot Association for Women Development

Yemen

58.  Al- Irtiqa Association for Rehabilitation and Development

Yemen

59.  Al-Ghorabi Association for Social Development

Yemen

60.  Charity Association for Social Care of Poor Families 

Yemen

61.  The Society of Caring and Qualifying the Deaf  

Yemen

62.  Ibn Al-Haytham CharityAssociation

Yemen

63.  BeitHanthal Charity Association 

Yemen

64.  Al-Mihraq Association for Solidarity and Development 

Yemen

65.  Life Makers Foundation 

Yemen

66.  Altheqa Association for Rehabilitation of People with Special Needs 

Yemen

67.  Zahra Feminist Association  

Yemen

68.  Forum of Cultural and Creative Youth

Yemen

69.  Yemen Association for Consumer Protection 

Yemen

70.  Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC)

Yemen

71.  Act Up-Basel

Switzerland

72.  Act Up-Paris

France

73.  African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD)

Zimbabwe

74.  AFARD

Guinea Bissau

75.  Africaine de Recherche et de Cooperation pour l’Appui au Developpement Endogene (ARCADE)

Senegal

76.  African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD)

Zimbabwe

 

77.  Alternative Espaces Citoyens

 

Niger

78.  ALCS (Association de lutte contre le sida)

Morocco

79.  Appui au Développement Intégral et à la Solidarité sur les Collines (ADISCO)

Burundi

80.  Arab NGO Network for Development

Lebanon. Represents 7 networks and 23 individual organizations in the Arab region.

81.   Association pour le Bien Etre Familial et le Developpement Durable (ABEFDD) 

Mauritania

82.  Attac France

France

83.  Bahrain Transparency Society

Bahrain

84.  Bharatiya Krishak Samaj

India

85.  Both ENDS  

The Netherlands

86.  Campaign For Good Governance (SUPRO)

Bangladesh

87.  Centre Amadou Hampâté Bâ (CAHBA)

Mali

88.  Centre du Commerce International pour le Developpement (CECIDE)

Guinea

89.  CNJORD/AFDE

Chad

90.  Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development (HEPS Uganda) 

Uganda

91.  Comisión Internacional Attac

Spain

92.  Community Empowerment for Progress Organization-CEPO

South Sudan-Juba

93.  Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

South Africa

94.  Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS)

Zambia

95.  Development Services Exchange (DSE)

Solomon Islands

96.  Dharti Development Foundation Sindh

Pakistan

97.  Dignity International

Malaysia

98.  East African Health Platform (EAHP)

Tanzania

99.  Econews Africa

 

100.                         Economic Justice Coalition

Mozambique

101.      Ecuador Decide

Ecuador

102.      El Grupo Por Una Agricultura Alternativa Y 

               De Alerta De La Transgenesis (AGALAT)

Panama

103.      Environmental Development Action in the  

          Third World (ENDA)

Ethiopia

 

104.      Eritrean Movement for Democracy and  

         Human Rights (EMDHR)

 

Eritrea

105.      EDGE

Sudan

106.      Federation of Democratic Labour Unions

Mauritius

107.      Fédération des ONG au Togo

Togo

108.      Forum for African Women Educationalists

         (FAWE) Comoros

Comoros

109.      Foundation for Human Rights and

          Democracy

Liberia

110.      Global Compliance Research Project

Canada

111.      Governance Links

Tanzania

112.      Greener Ethiopia

Ethiopia

113.      Groupe d'Action de Paix et de

      Formation pour la Transformation (GAPAFOT)

Central African Republic

114.      Groupe de Recherche et d'Action pour

la Promotion de l'Agriculture et du Developement (GRAPAD)

Benin

115.      Grupo Tacuba

Mexico

116.       Health GAP

USA

117.      Hind Mazdoor Sabha

India

118.      Huam Jai Asasamak

Lao People's Democratic Republic

119.      Institute for Global Justice (IGJ)

Indonesia

120.      International Grail Network on Justice in

         Trade Agreements

A coalition of groups working for peace and justice in 20 countries worldwide

121.      International Treatment Preparedness

Coalition Middle Eastern & North Africa (ITPC-MENA)

Middle Eastern & North Africa

122.      Kiribati Association of NGOs – KANGO

Kiribati

123.      Knowledge Ecology International

USA

124.      LDC Watch

An alliance of regional and national civil society organizations and networks based in the LDCs

125.      Malawi Economic Justice Network

Malawi

126.      Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres Perú

Peru

127.      Mauritius Trade Union Congress

Mauritius

128.      Mesa de Coordinación Latinoamericana de

         Comercio Justo

Latin America (Regional Group)

129.      Migration and Sustainable Development

          Alliance

Mauritius

130.      Médecins Sans FrontiÚres -Access Campaign

Medical Humanitarian Organization

131.      Myanmar Resource Foundation

Myanmar

132.      ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria

Austria

133.      Organisation Djiboutienne de Bienfaisance

          et de Développement (HODAGAD)

Djibouti

134.      Organisation pour le Renforcement des

          Capacities de Developpement (ORCADE)

Burkina Faso

135.      Oxfam International

International

136.      Pax Romana- ICMICA Asia

Asia (Regional Group)

137.      Peace and Conflict Studies Centre

Timor-Leste

138.      People's Health Movement

Iran

139.      Plateforme Haitienne de Plaidoyer pour un

    Developpement Alternatif (PAPDA)

Haiti

140.      Plate forme societe Civile Pour l’enfance

Madagascar

141.      Policy Analysis and Research Institute of

          Lesotho (PARIL)

Lesotho

142.      Promotion de la démocratie et des

    droits économiques et sociaux (PRODDES-

    RDCONGO)

Congo

143.      Réseau Dynamiques Africaines

Rwanda

144.      Roots for Equity

Pakistan

145.      Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN)

Nepal

146.      Samoa Umbrella of NGOs – SUNGO

Samoa

147.      Sanayee Development Organization

Afghanistan

148.      SILAKA

Cambodia

149.      Southern And East African Trade

          Institute (SEATINI)

South Africa, Uganda

150.      South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication

          (SAAPE)

Regional network of civil society organisations

151.      Somali Organisation for Community 

          Development Activities (SOCDA)

Somalia

152.      S.O.S - Crianca E Desenvolvimento Integral

    De Angola

Angola

153.      Tanzania Gender Networking Programme

          (TGNP)

Tanzania

154.      The Center for Health, Human Rights and

    Development (CEHURD)

Uganda

155.      The Corner House

United Kingdom

156.      The Vanuatu Association of Non-

          Governmental Organisation (VANGO)

Vanuatu

157.      Third World Network

Malaysia

158.      Tuvalu Association of NGOs – TANGO

Tuvalu

159.      Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña

El Salvador

160.      Youth Partnership for Peace and

          Development

Sierra Leone

161.      Vrijschrift

The Netherlands

162.      Worldview

The Gambia


[1]               WT/L/508/Add.1

[2]               Article 66.1 of the TRIPS agreement states: “In view of the special needs and requirements of least-developed country Members, their economic, financial and administrative constraints, and their need for flexibility to create a viable technological base, such Members shall not be required to apply the provisions of this Agreement, other than Articles 3, 4 and 5, for a period of 10 years from the date of application as defined under paragraph 1 of Article 65.  The Council for TRIPS shall, upon duly motivated request by a least-developed country Member, accord extensions of this period.”

 

 

[3]              Electrification rate: 40% of the population (2009); 12 person out of 100 people have access to the worldwide network (2010); 50 out of 100 people have telephone lines and mobile subscribers

[4]                 Only 16% of the population has a secondary education.