Author: Kanika Aggarwal, Associate at Khaitan & Khaitan
Co-Author: Dr. Kanchal Gupta, Assistant Professor at School of Law, UPES, Dehradun
Human rights and intellectual property, two bodies of law that were once strangers, are now becoming increasingly intimate bedfellows. For decades the two subjects developed in virtual isolation from each other. But in the last few years, international standard setting activities have begun to map previously uncharted intersections between intellectual property law on the one hand and human rights law on the other.
This article examines the different aspects of the relationship between intellectual property rights, human rights, and science and technology related provisions in human rights treaties and most importantly will be having a reference with regard to the right to health as a human right. It analyzes existing knowledge protection- related provisions in human rights treaties. It also examines some of the impacts of existing intellectual property rights regimes on the realization of human rights.
Further, it analyzes the General Comment 172 on Article 15(1) (c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and proposes an alternative broader reading of this provision focusing on traditional knowledge.
The international intellectual property system is on the brink of a deepening crisis. Government officials, civil society groups, and private parties are staking out opposing positions on a variety of issues in an increasingly wide array of international venues. The issues range from patented medicine to biodiversity and traditional knowledge and from digital content and webcasting to the harmonization of procedural rules. The results are increasingly dysfunctional: acrimonious and unresolved clashes over substantive rules and values, competition among international institutions for policy dominance, and a proliferation of fragmented and incoherent treaty obligations and nonbinding norms.