World Trade Organization (WTO)

Book Review: Patents, Human Rights, and Access to Medicines

The book discusses the manner in which patent rights adversely affect access to medicines by developing countries and proposes ways to mitigate this. From the author’s point of view, the current international patent rights system as embodied in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) is too concerned with protecting the interests of innovators at the expense of all other users. In this way, the TRIPS Agreement, by introducing mandatory minimum and stronger standards for the protection of patent rights, has provided an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to charge inflated prices while concentrating their investments mainly towards diseases that affect developed countries. Further, the TRIPS Agreement has diminished the policy space available for developing countries to design patent regimes that are suitable for their developmental and technological needs and circumstances.

NEWS: 6.16.2022

The News and Events published every week include conferences, major developments in the field of International Economic Law in Africa at the national, sub-regional and regional levels as well as relevant case law.

Symposium on the Economic Impacts of Data Localisation in Africa: Personal Data Protection and Economic Integration: Options for AfCFTA Negotiators

Rules on cross-border data flows are no exception to this general trend. Moreover, given that the WTO rulebook was mostly written in the 1990s prior to the rise of the data driven economy, multilateral trade rules by and large do not regulate cross-border data flows, a fact which has contributed to rules on this front – demand for which has only increased as economies have become more data intensive – being set nationally and even sub-nationally, but also regionally, and in PTAs and FTAs. At the same time, trends such as the rise of what is often referred to as ‘surveillance capitalism’ has brought the issue of personal data protection on privacy grounds into sharper focus around the world. With this background context in place, this essay looks at the intersection of economic integration and personal data protection with a view to informing ongoing debates on what AfCFTA rules on cross-border data flows might look like.

Symposium on Reconceptualizing IEL for Migration: The Elephant in the Room

Migrants and migrant workers from the Global South carried the economies of the Global North on their backs during the Covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, millions of migrant workers in agriculture, trans-portation, care, food processing, construction, and other essential sectors continued working while the world shut down. On the other hand, migrant workers faced some of the harshest and most punitive treatment due to their status or lack thereof; many migrant workers were detained, deported or subjected to severe and inhumane treatment coupled with the physical, emotional and psychological impact of the pandemic. The pandemic unveiled high levels of nationalism, racism and xenophobia that impacted mi-grants globally and states have used the momentum to justify heavy handed measures and increased migration restrictions and the monitoring of migrants.

Journeying Towards an African Electricity Market: An International Economic Law Perspective

Electricity security is in today’s world a critical component for a well-functioning economy. Many African countries rely heavily on fossil fuels for electricity generation, while others have successfully harnessed renewable energy sources – Kenya being an example, with over 80% of its power generation being from renewable energy sources. With the global push to de-carbonise national economies, particularly the power sector, the interdependence of countries through electricity trade will become increasingly important. Countries are now only looking to develop their own clean energy capacity, but will in future, also seek to harness that of neighouring countries through cross-border power trade.

Nigeria and WIPO’s Development Agenda

Nigeria’s role in shaping international intellectual property law deserves more scholarly attention. That is not to say that Nigeria’s role in this regard has not been acknowledged in the existing literature. For instance, Nigeria’s role as part of the state actors from developing countries that opposed the inclusion of intellectual property into the Uruguay Round that led to the creation of the WTO is well documented. Nevertheless, Nigeria’s role in other fora and venues where issues relating to international intellectual property law are being negotiated and discussed deserves more attention. In this regard, this blog post will focus on Nigeria’s role in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Due to constraints of space, it is not possible to provide an exhaustive examination of Nigeria’s contributions to WIPO’s work. The focus here will solely be on Nigeria’s role within the context of the work of WIPO’s Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP). The CDIP was established in 2008 after the adoption of WIPO’s Development Agenda in 2007 (more about this below). Specifically, this post will highlight the role played by Nigeria in securing the inclusion of an agenda item on ‘Intellectual Property and Development’ at CDIP.

Domestic Effects of International Law in Nigeria: The Case of Trade Agreements

In this piece, I argue that Nigeria’s non-compliant behaviour is prevalent and entrenched in the field of international trade law, and that this behaviour is largely influenced by Nigeria’s perception of its national economic interests, which are underpinned by the protectionist policy of import-substitution. But Nigeria’s poor adherence to international trade rules should also be seen in the context of its general lack of commitment to the rule of law.

Fragmentation and Dilution of ACP Countries' Negotiating Positions During the ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements Negotiations

This article examines the EPAs negotiating process in select ACP countries to highlight the fragmentation and dilution of ACP countries' negotiating positions. It outlines how the rigorous negotiation processes whittled down the ACP countries offensive interests and ultimately led to the hesitation by several ACP states to ratify the EPAs. The article concludes that EPAs are one of the factors that explain the low trade volumes between African and Caribbean countries.