A Human Rights Approach to Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines. Global Health Justice Partnership, Policy Paper 1, September 2013
(2013; 73 pages) [French] [Spanish]


In this paper, we address whether and how human rights norms and frameworks can be used to improve access to medicines (A2M) by reducing the barriers that intellectual property (IP) laws create to such access. We evaluate the feasibility and usefulness of four human rights-based strategies that our contacts in the A2M community suggested might be particularly productive:

  1. the use of human rights arguments in domestic court cases that deal with intellectual property laws,
  2. the articulation of norms in the United Nations (UN) human rights system,
  3. the use of human rights arguments and frameworks to secure greater pharmaceutical corporate accountability, and
  4. the use of health-related rights to build multilateral and regional alliances that can more effectively oppose free trade agreements (FTAs) with TRIPS-plus provisions (TRIPS being Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).

We offer insights and specific short- and long-term action steps for each strategy, including recommendations for further research.

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