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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec13/04)
2 December 2013
Third World Network  

Dear friends and colleagues,

Please find below a NGO letter signed by 162 NGOs from around the world expressing concerns regarding the intellectual property commitments being required of Yemen as part of its WTO accession package that will be presented to the upcoming 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali.

As part of its accession terms Yemen is required to fully implement the WTO-Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) by 31 December 2016. According to the NGO letter, this contradicts Paragraph 18 of the 2012 Accession Guidelines which explicitly reaffirms “that the Special and Differential Treatment, as set out in the Multilateral Trade Agreements, Ministerial Decisions, and other relevant WTO legal instruments, shall be applicable to all acceding LDCs from the date of entry into force of their respective Protocols of Accession”.

The letter urges the Director General of WTO to take immediate measures to rectify the situation.

Regards
Sangeeta Shashikant



Letter to THE Director-General OF THE World Trade Organization (WTO) Concerning Yemen’s Accession Commitments On Intellectual Property

28th November 2013

Mr. Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo,
Director General
World Trade Organization

cc: H.E. Mr. Shahid BASHIR,
Chairperson,
General Council of the WTO

Dear Mr. Azevêdo,

The undersigned organizations are writing to express concerns regarding intellectual property commitmentsbeing forced on Yemen as part of its WTO accession package that will be presented for formal adoption, to the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, 3-6 December 2013.  

We understand that as part of its accession terms Yemen is required to fullyimplement the WTO-Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) by 31 December 2016.  This contradicts Paragraph 18 of the 2012 Accession Guidelines which explicitly reaffirms “that the Special and Differential Treatment, as set out in the Multilateral Trade Agreements, Ministerial Decisions, and other relevant WTO legal instruments, shall be applicable to all acceding LDCs from the date of entry into force of their respective Protocols of Accession”.[1]

Thus paragraph 18 of the 2012 Accession Guidelines automatically entitles acceding LDCs to transition periods granted pursuant to Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement. [2]  Article 66.1, is one of the most important Special and Differential provisions contained in the TRIPS Agreement, as itgrants LDCs the flexibility they need to overcome their socio-economic constraints and to develop a viable technological base.

On 11 June 2013, the TRIPS Council adopted a decision pursuant to Article 66.1 of the Agreement, to extend the LDC TRIPS transition period until 1 July 2021. According to this Decision, LDCs “shall not be required to apply the provisions of the Agreement, other than Articles 3, 4 and 5, until 1 July 2021”. The Decision also allows further extensions beyond 1 July 2021.

The Decision also expressly recognizes the right of WTO LDC Members to make full use of the flexibilities provided by the TRIPS Agreement to address their needs. This includes the option of rollingback/undoing TRIPS consistent intellectual property (IP) protections. 

Requiring Yemen to be TRIPS compliant by the end of 2016 is a violation of the 2012 Accession Guidelines that were adopted by the WTO General Council and that recognized the entitlement of acceding countries to Special and Differential Treatment provisions that underpin the WTO architecture.

For countries to benefit from full TRIPS compliance certain basic socio-economic conditions should exist in particular a significant market, sufficient capital, qualified and skilled personnel at the firm level, innovation-oriented entrepreneurs, as well as a solid scientific and technological base. As an LDC, these conditions obviously do not exist in Yemen.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab region, with very slow progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with 32% of the population living in severe poverty. It has extremely weak infrastructure [3], and underdeveloped scientific and innovative capacities. Yemen faces massive challenges in ensuring its population has access to education, health and other basic services. [4] The economy is also caught in a jobless slow growth cycle leading to stagnant per capita incomes and rising levels of unemployment. Moreover, Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis with widespread hunger, chronic malnutrition and healthproblems as the country emerges from a period of civil unrest. 


Given this situation, it is unconscionable for the WTO to require Yemen to fully implement the TRIPS Agreement by 2016. It is also damaging to WTO’s credibility that it is failing to abide by its own rules, in particular paragraph 18 of the 2012 Accession Guidelines. 

Thus we urge you to take immediate measures to rectify the situation by issuing a statement confirming that the TRIPS Council Decision adopted on 11 June 2013 is applicable to Yemen and it is under no obligation to implement the TRIPS Agreement until 1 July2021 or later if a further extension is granted pursuant to Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement.

We also urge you to ensure that all LDC countries that are in the process of acceding to the WTO are accorded transition periods consistent with TRIPS Council decisions concerning Article 66.1.

In conclusion we stress that any attempt to weaken or to refuse LDCs rights that they are entitled to will damage the credibility of the WTO andwill show that the multilateral trading system does not work in the interests of the poorest and most vulnerable populations of the international community.  Even worse, such a condition will confine Yemen to technological underdevelopment and to potential overpayment for IP-protected commodities for years to come thereby imposing unnecessaryhardship and human rights deprivations on some of the poorest people in theworld.


SIGNATORIES

Organizations    

1.   Khadejh Organization,  Yemen
2.   Al yuser Association in Hosn,  Yemen
3.   Yemeni Women Union, Yemen
4.   Charitable Society for Social Welfare, Yemen
5.   Amer&Okaba Association for Social Development, Yemen
6.   Saleh Foundation for Social Development, Yemen
7.   Democratic Support Foundation,  Yemen
8.   General Federation of Trade Unions of Yemen,  Yemen
9.   The Fishery Cooperative Union, Yemen
10.   Soul for Development,  Yemen
11.  Altahadi Foundation for Caring & Of Disabled Females, Yemen
12.  Women Center for Culture Development & Anti- Violence, Yemen
13.  Yemeni Family Care Association, Yemen
14.  Gender Development Research & Studies Center, Yemen
15.  ACU Agriculture Cooperation Union, Yemen
16.  Wejdan Feminist Association, Yemen
17.  Almustkbal Feminist Social Association for Development,  Yemen
18.  Life Makers Foundation- Yemen, Yemen
19.  Hail Saeed Charity Society, Yemen
20.  Alshahl Feminist Association, Yemen
21.  Charity Association in Alghorfah Area, Yemen
22.  Feminist Charity Association for Combating Poverty, Yemen
23.  Zohor Charity Association,  Yemen
24.  Women Development Center, Yemen
25.  Association of Women and Child Development, Yemen
26.  Alharth Social Association for Charity, Yemen
27.  Salami Cooperative Association, Yemen
28.  Feminist Union for the Rehabilitation and Training of Women, Yemen
29.  Etqan Charitable Association, Yemen
30.   Athar Foundation for Development, Yemen
31.   All Girls Foundation for Development, Yemen
32.   Al- Ferdous Women Development Society, Yemen
33.   Waed,  Yemen
34.   The Aeen Youth Third Initiative for Social Development, Yemen
35.   Dar Al- Salam Organization Peace House in Yemen, Yemen
36.   Namai Forum for Media Development, Yemen
37.   Family Association for Development, Yemen
38.   Anzaz Association,  Yemen
39.   Alzarebi Feminist Association, Yemen
40.   Zabid Feminist Charity Association, Yemen
41.   Dialogue Center for Human Rights Culture Development, Yemen
42.   Tadhamon ASS.CH. for Development Society, Yemen
43.   BaniAlkrebi Association for Social Development,Yemen
44.   Aldhameer Society For Social Development,Yemen
45.   Almethaq Development Social Association,Yemen
46.   AjyalMarib Social Development, Yemen
47.   Environment & Social Development Association,Yemen
48.   Yemen Association of Persons with Disabilities double,Yemen
49.   Wed for Women Development, Yemen
50.   Yemeni Association For Wome Development Support, Yemen
51.   Alethar Women Association, Yemen
52.   Sam Women Association, Yemen
53.   Al- Takamol Association for Development, Yemen
54.   Al- Ahad Feminist Social Charity Association, Yemen
55.   The Economic and Social Development Researches Center,Yemen
56.   Women's Association for the Economic Savings and lending, Yemen
57.   Al- Tarabot Association for Women Development, Yemen
58.   Al- Irtiqa Association for Rehabilitation and Development, Yemen
59.   Al-Ghorabi Association for Social Development, Yemen
60.   Charity Association for Social Care of Poor Families,  Yemen
61.   The Society of Caring and Qualifying the Deaf Yemen
62.   Ibn Al-Haytham CharityAssociation,  Yemen
63.   BeitHanthal Charity Association,Yemen
64.   Al-Mihraq Association for Solidarity and Development, Yemen
65.   Life Makers Foundation, Yemen
66.   Altheqa Association for Rehabilitation of People with Special Needs, Yemen
67.   Zahra Feminist Association, Yemen
68.   Forum of Cultural and Creative Youth, Yemen
69.   Yemen Association for Consumer Protection, Yemen
70.   Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC), Yemen
71.   Act Up-Basel, Switzerland
72.   Act Up-Paris,  France
73.   African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Zimbabwe
74.   AFARD,Guinea Bissau
75.   Africaine de Recherche et de Cooperation pour l’Appui au Developpement Endogene (ARCADE),  Senegal
76.   African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Zimbabwe
77.   Alternative Espaces Citoyens, Niger
78.   ALCS (Association de lutte contre le sida), Morocco
79.   Appui au Développement Intégral et à la Solidarité sur les Collines (ADISCO), Burundi
80.   Arab NGO Network for Development  Lebanon. Represents 7 networks and 23 individual organizations in the Arab region.
81.   Association pour le Bien Etre Familial et le Developpement Durable (ABEFDD),  Mauritania
82.   Attac France, France
83.   Bahrain Transparency Society, Bahrain
84.   Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, India
85.   Both ENDS, The Netherlands
86.   Campaign For Good Governance (SUPRO), Bangladesh
87.   Centre Amadou Hampâté Bâ (CAHBA), Mali
88.   Centre du Commerce International pour le Developpement (CECIDE), Guinea
89.   CNJORD/AFDE,  Chad
90.   Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development (HEPS Uganda),  Uganda
91.   Comisión Internacional Attac, Spain
92.   Community Empowerment for Progress Organization-CEPO, South Sudan-Juba
93.   Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South Africa
94.   Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), Zambia
95.   Development Services Exchange (DSE), Solomon Islands
96.   .Dharti Development Foundation Sindh, Pakistan
97.   Dignity International, Malaysia
98.   East African Health Platform (EAHP), Tanzania
99.   Econews Africa
100.   Economic Justice Coalition, Mozambique
101.   Ecuador Decide, Ecuador
102.   El Grupo Por Una Agricultura Alternativa Y  De Alerta De La Transgenesis (AGALAT),  Panama
103.  Environmental Development Action in the Third World (ENDA),  Ethiopia
104.   Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), Eritrea
105.   EDGE, Sudan
106.   Federation of Democratic Labour Unions, Mauritius
107.   Fédération des ONG au Togo, Togo
108.   Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Comoros, Comoros
109.   Foundation for Human Rights and  Democracy,  Liberia
110.   Global Compliance Research Project,  Canada
111.   Governance Links, Tanzania
112.   Greener Ethiopia,  Ethiopia
113.   Groupe d'Action de Paix et de Formation pour la Transformation (GAPAFOT), Central African Republic
114.   Groupe de Recherche et d'Action pour la Promotion de l'Agriculture et du Developement (GRAPAD),  Benin
115.   Grupo Tacuba, Mexico
116.   Health GAP,  USA
117.   Hind Mazdoor Sabha, India
118.   Huam Jai Asasamak, Lao People's Democratic Republic
119.   Institute for Global Justice (IGJ), Indonesia
120.   International Grail Network on Justice in Trade Agreements 
A coalition of groups working for peace and justice in 20 countries worldwide
121.   International Treatment Preparedness Coalition Middle Eastern & North Africa (ITPC-MENA),  Middle Eastern & North Africa
122.   Kiribati Association of NGOs – KANGO, Kiribati
123.   Knowledge Ecology International, USA
124.   LDC Watch, An alliance of regional and national civil society organizations and networks based in the LDCs
125.   Malawi Economic Justice Network, Malawi
126.   Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres Perú, Peru
127.   Mauritius Trade Union Congress, Mauritius
128.   Mesa de Coordinación Latinoamericana de Comercio Justo  Latin America (Regional Group)
129.   Migration and Sustainable Development Alliance, Mauritius
130.   Médecins Sans Frontières -Access Campaign Medical Humanitarian Organization
131.   Myanmar Resource Foundation, Myanmar
132.   ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria, Austria
133.   Organisation Djiboutienne de Bienfaisance et de Développement (HODAGAD), Djibouti
134.   Organisation pour le Renforcement des Capacities de Developpement (ORCADE), Burkina Faso
135.   Oxfam International International
136.   Pax Romana- ICMICA Asia Asia (Regional Group)
137.   Peace and Conflict Studies Centre, Timor-Leste
138.   People's Health Movement, Iran
139.   Plateforme Haitienne de Plaidoyer pour un  Developpement Alternatif (PAPDA), Haiti
140.   Plate forme societe Civile Pour l’enfance,  Madagascar
141   Policy Analysis and Research Institute of Lesotho (PARIL),  Lesotho
142.   Promotion de la démocratie et des droits économiques et sociaux (PRODDES-RDCONGO),  Congo
143.   Réseau Dynamiques Africaines, Rwanda
144.   Roots for Equity, Pakistan
145.   Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN), Nepal
146.   Samoa Umbrella of NGOs – SUNGO,  Samoa
147.   Sanayee Development Organization, Afghanistan
148.   SILAKA,  Cambodia
149.    Southern And East African Trade Institute (SEATINI), South Africa, Uganda
150.   South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), Regional network of civil society organisations
151.   Somali Organisation for Community Development Activities (SOCDA), Somalia
152.   S.O.S - Crianca E Desenvolvimento Integral De Angola, Angola
153.   Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), Tanzania
154.   The Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), Uganda
155.   The Corner House, United Kingdom
156.   The Vanuatu Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (VANGO) Vanuatu
157.   Third World Network, Malaysia
158.   Tuvalu Association of NGOs – TANGO,  Tuvalu
159.   Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña,  El Salvador
160.   Youth Partnership for Peace and Development,  Sierra Leone
161.   Vrijschrift,  The Netherlands
162.   Worldview, The Gambia


[1]  WT/L/508/Add.1

[2] Article 66.1 of the TRIPS agreement states: “In view of the special needs and requirements of least-developed country Members, their economic, financial and administrative constraints, and their need for flexibility to create a viable technological base, such Members shall not be required to apply the provisions of this Agreement, other than Articles 3, 4 and 5, for a period of 10 years from the date of application as defined under paragraph 1 of Article 65.  The Council for TRIPS shall, upon duly motivated request by a least-developed country Member, accord extensions of this period.”

[3]  Electrification rate: 40% of the population (2009); 12 person out of 100 people have access to the worldwide network (2010); 50 out of 100 people have telephone lines and mobile subscribers

[4] Only 16% of the population has a secondary education.

 


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