G20 urges ‘voluntary’ tech transfer amid IP row at WHO
Managing IP is part of Legal Benchmarking Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX
Copyright © Legal Benchmarking Limited and its affiliated companies 2024

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

G20 urges ‘voluntary’ tech transfer amid IP row at WHO

G20 health.jpg
A meeting of health ministers in Gujarat, India last week | Credit: Govt of India

A statement from health ministers arrived as negotiations over pandemic prevention measures continue at the WHO

G20 health ministers have hailed the importance of tech transfer and knowledge sharing to prevent future pandemics, but only on “voluntary and mutually agreed terms”.

An outcome statement, published after a two-day meeting of health ministers in Gujarat on Saturday, August 18, highlighted the need to improve access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapies in developing countries.

Negotiations to achieve that aim are ongoing at the World Health Organization (WHO), which is preparing the text of a new pandemic preparedness treaty.

But developed countries have so far resisted lower-income nations’ demands to make rights owners share their intellectual property.

The shadow of that debate is visible in the wording of the G20 statement, says Ellen ‘t Hoen, director at Medicines Law & Policy in Amsterdam.

“This statement does not detract from the rights countries have to use compulsory patent licensing. But the G20 does seem to want to pre-empt the outcome of the pandemic treaty negotiations at the WHO by stressing voluntary measures,” she said.

As Managing IP has previously reported, low-to-middle income countries that want harder commitments on knowledge sharing face an uphill battle at the WHO.

WHO negotiators met in Geneva last month for the latest round of talks on the pandemic treaty, which has several chapters that could affect the global IP system.

The latest text, prepared by the bureau of the WHO’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, mostly promotes the voluntary sharing of know-how rather than any hard obligations.

India and South Africa, G20 members that have argued for tech transfer obligations on IP owners in other forums, signed the outcome statement over the weekend.

‘T Hoen said WHO member states should take a “more courageous approach” than shown either by the G20 or in the bureau draft of the pandemic treaty so far.

“‘Voluntary’ is how the world left it the last time around. That did not work out for most countries,” she said.

The outcome statement was agreed unanimously by G20 states, except Russia and China, which objected to a paragraph calling on Russian forces to withdraw from Ukraine.

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

Based on surveys covering more than 25,000 in-house lawyers, the series provides insights into what law firms must score highly on when pitching to in-house counsel
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
Tony Nguyen, who returned to Fish & Richardson this month after a year travelling overseas, tells Managing IP how and why he took the plunge
Tom Treutler, who previously managed the Vietnamese office of Tilleke & Gibbins, has joined East IP
Counsel discuss upcoming AI and data privacy legislation and what they’ve learned since Chile joined the Madrid Protocol
INTA has postponed its planned Annual Meeting in Dubai, but the organisation should think carefully about whether it wants to go there at all
The firm has named its new managing director after its former Asia head resigned earlier this year
As law firms explore how best to support clients at the UPC, members of the UPCLA network believe they have found the best of both worlds
The Industry Patent Quality Charter hosted a conference in which it discussed the importance of granting high-quality patents
Julia Holden explains why, if she weren’t in IP, she would be directing and producing live English-language theatre
Gift this article