Tuesday, May 20, 2008

South Centre the only IGO Observer at the WCO/ SECURE Meeting

The World Customs Organization (WCO) held its Third Meeting of the Working Group on the Provisional Standards Employed by Customs for Uniform Rights Enforcement (SECURE) at its Headquarters in Brussels 24-25 April 2008. The meeting, largely driven by selected developed countries and private members, is an attempt to promote their TRIPS-Plus-Plus agenda on international border enforcement, i.e. voluntary international standards and best practice that exceed those established by the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), in the absence of the scrutiny of the international community.

The proposed SECURE under WCO, if adopted, will have far reaching consequences. Compared with the WTO TRIPS Agreement, the proposed SECURE standards on IP enforcement border measures represents a significant departure from TRIPS provisions in terms of scope and intensity of the border measures and member states obligations. The delicate balance under TRIPS would be broken, thus affecting the flexibilities contained in TRIPS. Compared with WIPO Development Agenda, the proposed SECURE standards tend to favor the right holders of IPRs, thus affecting the balance between the rights holders and other stakeholders, such as importers, manufacturers, consumers, for example in respect of generic pharmaceutical products, etc.

Dr. Xuan Li, Head of the Innovation and Access to Knowledge Programme, South Centre, participated in the meeting. South Centre was the only intergovernmental organization of the developing countries present as an observer for the Meeting.