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Friday, May 02, 2008

WHO IGWG resumes meetings

Kaitlin Mara and William New, WHO Members Inch Toward Consensus On IP, Innovation And Public Health, Intellectual Property Watch, May 2, 2008.

... The [World Health Organization] Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG) is meeting from 28 April to 3 May, as a part of its resumed second session (the second session begin in November 2007)(IPW, WHO, 9 November 2007). The current round of negotiations is under mandate to create a consensus document for presentation at the World Health Assembly, which will take place later this month. ...

The morning’s negotiations focussed on element two, promotion of research and development. Convergence was reached on ... article (2.4.c) on the creation of open databases and compound libraries. The United States sought to delete the ... article as it felt it was redundant, sparking discussion on the issue. ...

The encouragement and promotion of traditional knowledge (and traditional medicines) was another key debate. Suriname wanted to ensure that traditional medicine is protected from being carried away from its nations of origin and brought back as patented matter. The traditional knowledge clause in element 5, Article 5.1.f, on the creation of digital libraries of traditional knowledge in order to prevent misappropriation, caused much disagreement. Some delegates were uncertain if discussions on traditional knowledge even belonged in the WHO negotiation. Others could not see how a digital database could prevent misappropriation, as it would offer greater access to the knowledge. Several new suggestions were offered, but after lengthy discussion no convergence was forthcoming so the chair suggested interested parties meet outside the plenary. Kenya is chairing this side session. ...

Comment. I wish I could offer more clarity on these points, and provide more information about discussions of other OA-related issues which have been included in the IGWG discussions to date. Unfortunately, the article refers to points which don't exist in the document as available from the WHO site, and the link provided in the article doesn't work.

See previous OAN coverage of the IGWG: 1, 2, 3.