One of the sites where the legacies of colonialism continue to be perpetuated in the Global South is the law classroom. In the teaching and research of international law, ‘mainstream’ narratives of international law are privileged as the Subject, and critical international law scholarship is treated as the Other.
This is the video recording of the Afronomicslaw Academic Forum Guest Lecture Series on "The Sovereign Alien: History, TWAIL, and International Economic Law" by Prof. Antony Anghie with Humphrey Sipalla as discussant.
May 14, 2021
February 15, 2020
By highlighting the governance practices that enabled India and Brazil to circumvent and minimize the oppressive TRIPS regime, Vanni offers a critical perspective with key implications for scholarly work on the politics of intellectual property in marginalized contexts. Her emphasis on local approaches to law-making is certainly instructive for the interdisciplinary literature on intellectual property that tends to focus on foreign appropriation of traditional knowledge and illegal efforts such as piracy and counterfeit production to subvert the international regime.
This chapter, like much of the book, is exceptionally well researched, and brings seemingly unconnected developments neatly within the overarching narrative mentioned above. The author’s focus on how international law affects the ‘mundane’ everyday life, and vice versa, allows (or perhaps requires) her to examine much more than just the oft over-discussed ‘hot topics’ (i.e., compulsory licenses and patentability criteria) of the Indian pharma-patent landscape.
A central point highlighted in Vanni's analysis comes in the title of the chapter itself, “the Juridical State”. Brazil's social and political conflicts are for the most part moderated, and often even defined, by the role of courts. Hence, this centrality of the Judiciary in legal-political disputes is an unavoidable aspect of the analysis (and particularly as this was perhaps not always the case in the country's history). In IP and health policy, the influence of the Judiciary is crucial, where certain courts may take decisions on the validity of pharmaceutical patents - directly affecting conditions of competition and access to medicines - and superior courts may decide upon the constitutionality of aspects of laws and regulations that may either legitimize or fully impede the implementation of public health policies in IP matters.
In light of the current global health crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant discussions on the importance of pharmaceutical patents to our daily existence, the analyses in this book (and the symposium) performs an important function in documenting the role of different sets of actors and their influences on the domestic implementation of global patent rules, access to medicines, and how these (in)actions led us to where we are today.