Undermining the achievements of DOHA

This is an excerpt from an open letter regarding Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA) sent by the US office of MSF in Spring, 2002. To read the full letter, download a Word document of the full text here. The FTAA threatens to undermine the achievements in Doha. In particular, the U.S. negotiating position gives rise to serious questions about their true motives in agreeing to the Doha Declaration.
The 4th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which took place in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001, was a breakthrough in the international debate about the impact of the WTO Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on access to medicines. One hundred and forty two countries adopted a Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, driven largely by developing countries, which firmly placed public health needs above commercial interests and offered much needed clarifications about key flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement related to public health. The very fact that public health, and in particular access to medicines, has been singled out as an issue needing special attention in TRIPS implementation acknowledges that health care and health care technologies must be treated differently from other commodities and gives countries leeway for taking measures to counter the negative effects of excessive intellectual property protection on health. The FTAA threatens to undermine the achievements in Doha. In particular, the U.S. negotiating position gives rise to serious questions about their true motives in agreeing to the Doha Declaration. The Doha Declaration must remain a ceiling for international trade negotiations on intellectual property rights as they relate to public health technologies, and FTAA negotiators must not renege on the agreement reached in Doha.