Access to Medicine as a Human Right in the WTO Order

Holger Hestermeyer

in Human Rights and the WTO

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552177
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191706936 | DOI:

Series: International Economic Law Series

 Access to Medicine as a Human Right in the WTO Order

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This chapter begins by discussing the extent to which human rights can be applied in WTO dispute settlement, finding that they can only be used as an aid to interpreting the ‘covered agreements’. It then takes up that approach and interprets the ‘TRIPS flexibilities’ using the right to access to medicine. It demonstrates that the right serves as a helpful argument for a broad interpretation of the flexibilities, but suffers from the defect that it is merely one argument amongst many and cannot provide developing countries with legal security as to the interpretation of the flexibilities. It is this lack of legal security that discourages developing countries from making use of the flexibilities, particularly in the face of pressure for greater intellectual property protection by the developed world. The chapter also describes the action taken within the WTO to remedy the problem of access to medicines, its legal status, and analyzes whether the action is sufficient.

Keywords: TRIPS Agreement; WTO dispute settlement; WTO decisions; TRIPS flexibilities; developing countries; intellectual property protection; access to medicine

Chapter.  46567 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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