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Is the National Security Exception in the TRIPS Agreement a Realistic Option in Confronting COVID-19?

It has been suggested by some scholars and commentators that states can invoke the national security exception in the TRIPS Agreement as part of measures to tackle COVID-19 (see here, here, and here). This would entail invoking the security exception to suspend the enforcement of patent rights in order to facilitate either the importation or local production of needed medicines and/or vaccines. But is this a realistic option for states in the fight against COVID-19? That is the key question that will be addressed in this post. Article 73 of the TRIPS Agreement provides for the security exceptions that states can invoke to defend their non-compliance with the TRIPS Agreement. This is a unique provision in the context of international intellectual property law. Crucially, the major intellectual property treaties that were in existence before the TRIPS Agreement i.e. the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property do not contain any security exceptions. Article 73 mirrors similar provisions in…

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COVID-19 and EJIL

We are pulled in opposite directions in the face of a global upending of normal life. We find it attractive, even if hunkered down at home, as is our whole editorial team, in six different countries, to continue serenely our normal work in the face of a-normalcy. The life of the mind, the scholarly endeavor continues – even…

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Corporate Human Rights Due Diligence in times of COVID-19

The lockdown measures imposed following the COVID-19 outbreak have generated novel and significant challenges for businesses.  As firms redouble their efforts to ensure business continuity and redirect supply chains – and, in some jurisdictions, transition back to normal operating conditions – there is heightened risk of adverse human rights impacts materialising throughout the value chain, where such risk…

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CITES reform: Enhanced wildlife trade regime needed to avoid next pandemic

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has been called ‘the most successful of all international treaties concerned with the conservation of wildlife’ (Lyster, 2010). Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn increasing attention to the Convention’s serious shortcomings in and regulating wildlife exploitation. Highlighting the link between pandemics and wildlife exploitation, researchers have suggested…

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Covid-19 as a threat to international peace and security: The role of the UN Security Council in addressing the pandemic

On 1 July 2020 – 111 days after the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 to be a global pandemic – the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2532. Recognising that the unprecedented extent of the novel coronavirus pandemic “is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security”, the Security Council “demands” a general and immediate…

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