Message from the South Centre at the launch of the “Solidarity Call To Action” by the President of Costa Rica and the Director-General of the WHO

The architecture for access to medicines and vaccines, which is already complex to manage in normal times, requires even more structured actions in times of a pandemic by the scale of the demand and the urgency in meeting it. This call for solidarity to bring together the technologies and treatments related to COVID 19 is part of the necessary solution. It complements other available instruments for States to facilitate access to prevention and treatment for the population, including through the use of the flexibilities of the WTO TRIPS Agreement.

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South Centre Statement at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA)

Today we are facing a global health, economic and social crisis, the most serious in the last hundred years. The resolution adopted by this World Health Assembly on COVID 19 should have been more ambitious given the dimension of the current crisis. The response to an exceptional challenge must be exceptional. The COVID 19 pandemic forces us to reflect on whether many health systems and the WHO itself were prepared to face this crisis.

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Message from the South Centre to the 73rd World Health Assembly

Mensaje del South Centre a la 73a. Asamblea Mundial de la Salud


Compulsory Licenses and Government Use of Patented Medicines: Precedents relevant to address COVID-19

To meet public health needs, such as in the current COVID-19 emergency, governments can use compulsory licenses and government use as a tool for procurement and import of patented medicines. These mechanisms are provided for in most laws worldwide. The WTO TRIPS Agreement, as reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, recognises the right of WTO members to grant compulsory licenses and their freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses may be granted.

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Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the Covid-19 Crisis by the South Centre

The South Centre views with concern the attempts by some governments and industry players to monopolize the availability of treatments, diagnostics, medicines, medical supplies and devices needed for their own nationalist agenda or to maximize profit, ahead of societal interest in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The private enforcement of patents and government trade restrictions may pose a dire threat to the containment of this global public health emergency. Governments should act swiftly to put in place legislation and plans to ensure that patents and trade measures do not become barriers for access to those products.

Download Call for Action Plan on Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the COVID-19 Crisis



Open letter from Carlos Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre, to

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization

Francis Gurry, Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization

Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization

CC: António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

CC: Verónica Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Dear Colleagues,

The unprecedented global health crisis caused by COVID-19 represents a global challenge to the essential security interests of all countries. As stated by the World Health Organization Constitution, “the health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.”

Download the Open Letter (English)

Download the Open Letter (Spanish)

Download the Open Letter (French) 


Other Updates/Publications:

Research Paper 114, June 2020: Equitable Access to COVID-19 Related Health Technologies: A Global Priority

Research Paper 107, April 2020: Guide for the Granting of Compulsory Licenses and Government Use of Pharmaceutical Patents

Policy Brief 81, July 2020: The UN General Assembly Resolutions on COVID-19: Solemn Assurances for Access to Health Technologies without an Action Plan

Policy Brief 80, June 2020: Intellectual Property, Innovation and Access to Health Products for COVID-19: A Review of Measures Taken by Different Countries

Policy Brief 78, May 2020: The 73rd World Health Assembly and Resolution on COVID-19: Quest of Global Solidarity for Equitable Access to Health Products

Policy Brief 75, April 2020: Rethinking R&D for Pharmaceutical Products After the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 Shock

Informe Sobre Políticas 75, Mayo 2020: Repensando la I+D para productos farmacéuticos después del choque de la Coronavirus COVID-19

Policy Brief 73, April 2020: The COVID-19 Pandemic: R&D and Intellectual Property Management for Access to Diagnostics, Medicines and Vaccines

SouthViews No. 203, 24 July 2020: Coronavirus pandemic: the vaccine as exit strategy – A GLOBAL HURDLE RACE AGAINST TIME WITH A SPLIT JURY

SouthViews No. 202, 17 July 2020: Lessons from COVID-19: Pharmaceutical Production as a Strategic Goal

SouthViews No. 200, 16 June 2020: Making Covid-19 Medical Products Affordable: Voluntary Patent Pool and TRIPS Flexibilities

Rapport sur les politiques 73, Mai 2020: La pandémie de COVID-19 : R&D et gestion de la propriété intellectuelle pour l’accès aux tests diagnostiques, aux médicaments et aux vaccins

Informe Sobre Políticas 73, Mayo 2020: La pandemia de COVID-19: el fomento de la I+D y la gestión de la propiedad intelectual para acceder a diagnósticos, medicamentos y vacunas

Communiqué from Africa’s Leadership in COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Virtual Conference (SouthNews No. 324, 2 July 2020)

Compilation of Extracts from Selected Country Statements during 73rd World Health Assembly supporting Access to Health Products on COVID-19

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Intellectual Property Management for Access to Diagnostics, Medicines and Vaccines, 30 April 2020 (Webinar)

Book – Intellectual Property, Human Rights and Access To Medicines: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography (3rd Edition)

South Centre Working Paper – Intellectual Property Rights and the use of Compulsory Licenses: Options for Developing Countries