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Intellectual property rights and health: The constraints of WHO authority and the rise of global health governance as an element of contestation

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  • Hein, Wolfgang

Abstract

This paper links the main issues of the project "Contested World Order" (WZB, GIGA, HSFK) to the policy field of global health: the authority of the institutional setting, and the preferences and strategies of rising powers and non-state actors (NStAs) - the assumed protagonists of recent power shifts. The first part discusses the loss of WHO authority since the rise of Global Health Governance, and WHO's fight to reassert its position. The core of the paper deals with the conflict on intellectual property rights (IPRs) and access to medicines as a central issue in global health. Between 1995 and 2005, civil society organizations (CSOs) and some emerging powers fought successfully for improving access conditions under the TRIPS agreement (Doha Declaration). WHO's activities to regain the initiative led to the adoption of the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (2008) (GSPoA). Chapter 4 analyses the role of NStAs and rising powers (notably BRICS) during negotiations on implementing GSPoA. While CSOs insisted on a binding R&D treaty, BRICS countries finally agreed to more modest results. They support the welfare-orientation and the intergovernmental character of WHO but without seriously challenging basic rules in the global economy. Finally, consensus within WHO was restraint to issues which did not touch the basic IPR framework.

Suggested Citation

  • Hein, Wolfgang, 2016. "Intellectual property rights and health: The constraints of WHO authority and the rise of global health governance as an element of contestation," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Global Governance SP IV 2016-110, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbtci:spiv2016110
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    1. Wolfgang Hein, 2015. "Business and transnational norm-building in post-Westphalian global politics," International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 10(3/4), pages 208-229.
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