Resolution supporting the TRIPS waiver proposal was introduced in the Korean National Assembly

Knowledge Commune, in collaboration with the Justice Party, successfully mobilized the members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea to introduce this resolution.

 

Resolution urging temporary waiver of certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to tackle COVID-19 pandemic [1]

Date:  4 April 2021
Bill No.:  2109314
Proposed by: Jang Hye-young and thirteen members of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea

 

The National Assembly of the Republic of Korea

 

Recognizing that in this hyper connected global community COVID-19 pandemic can only be put an end by vaccination in every country, not in certain countries;

Confirming that addressing of vaccine inequality is the key for ending COVID-19 pandemic;

Recognizing that high income countries acquired two-thirds of the vaccine supply, accelerating vaccine inequality, and if this continues we have to wait until 2022 for herd immunity in low- and middle- income countries, which is estimated to produce an economic loss of UDS 9.2 trillion globally; [2]

Recognizing that in order to tackle the problem of vaccine inequality, we need to quickly ramp up the volume of vaccine production and achieve universal and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world through collaboration between all of the pharmaceutical companies having vaccine manufacturing capacity;

Recognizing that intellectual property systems may be an obstacle to ramping up the vaccine production and the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, and the best way at the international level to prevent intellectual property system from becoming an obstacle to the response of COVID-19 would be globally agreed measures regarding the international intellectual property norms;

Whereas if the bilaterally contracted 9.59 billion doses of vaccines are equitably distributed, more than half global populations can be vaccinated, revealing the reality of rigorous vaccine inequality that while ten high-income countries procured two-thirds of the vaccine, 2.5 billions of people in around 130 countries have not been administered yet;

Whereas, on 16 October 2020, the South Africa and India jointly proposed a temporary waiver of Sections 1, 4, 7 and 7 of Part II of the TRIPS Agreement and Sections under Part III of the TRIPS Agreement, [3] which may cover almost all of the intellectual property rights such as copyright and related rights, industrial design, patent, undisclosed information and their enforcement that can be obstacles to the response of COVID-19 pandemic;

Whereas more than two-thirds of WTO Member States support the waiver proposal,[4] the Holy See, in the Statement of 23 February 2021, pointed out that “[I]n many countries, a large number of manufacturing facilities, with proven capacity to produce safe and effective vaccines, are unable to utilize those capacities, due, inter alia, to IP barriers.”, [5] more than thirty members of the US Congress urged the President Biden to support the waiver proposal, 115 Members of European Parliament declared, on 24 February 2021, to urge the European Commission and Member States not to block the TRIPS waiver proposal at the WTO, [6] senators and lawmakers of Pakistan, Colombia, the Philippines and Malaysia expressed their support of the waiver proposal, [7] and several hundreds of civil society organizations and the UN human rights experts have been calling for the adoption of the waiver proposal;[8]

Whereas at the WHA 73 of 18 May 2020, the President Moon Jae-in maintained that “[v]accines and treatments are public goods that must be distributed equitably to the whole world”, and, in the address at the 75th session of United Nations General Assembly on 22 Sember 2020, he stressed the idea of UN’s inclusive multilateralism by saying that “[W]e must not only enhance international cooperation for developing vaccines and treatments but also guarantee their equitable access for all countries, once they are developed.”, requiring a congressional support of the waiver proposal in a way to help the President Moon Jae-in to carry out the pledge he made several times at the international arena;

 

1. Believes that for the complete end of COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine inequality must be resolved through the vaccinations of all people on the planet, and intellectual property rules should not act as an obstacle to this;

 

2. Confirms that ramping up the vaccine production can be accomplished by cooperation between various vaccine manufacturers, which requires sharing of technologies necessary for vaccine manufacturing and production, and mitigating the monopoly of relevant intellectual property rights;

 

3. Expresses concerns over the reality that vaccines developed with the support of public funds are treated as proprietary commodities of a handful number of  pharmaceutical companies;

 

4. Confirms that the most efficient way to fulfill President Moon Jae-in’s commitment to the international community that “vaccines and treatments are public goods that must be distributed equitably to the whole world”,[9] and that the UN members “must … guarantee [vaccines and treatments’] equitable access for all countries[10] is to temporarily waive certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement; and

 

5. Supports the proposal of South Africa and India on October 16, 2020 for the temporary waiver of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement (IP/C/W/669), and Urges the Korean government endorse the proposal at the TRIPS Council and the General Council of WTO.


 

  1.  The original Korean Korean text is here, and its English translation is drafted by Knowledge Commune with a style modification for the purpose of improving readability and removing redundancy in the Korean text. The Resolution was introduced by 6 members of the Justice Party, 6 members of the Ruling Party and 2 of two separate opposition parties, and the progress of the proposed Resolution within the National Assembly is found here.

  2. TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues (Mar21/01) 3 March 2021, “South countries demand text-based negotiations on TRIPS waiver”.

  3. Communication from India and South Africa, Waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19, IP/C/W/669 (2 October 2020).

  4. TWN Info Service on TWO and Trade Issues (25 Feb 2021) Two-thirds of WTO members issue call for a TRIPS waiver

  5. Statement by H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Council Geneva, 23 February 2021.

  6. Declaration from Members of the European Parliament to urge the Commission and Member States not to block the TRIPS waiver at the WTO and to support global access to COVID-19 vaccines

  7. Declaration from Members of the European Parliament to urge the Commission and Member States not to block the TRIPS waiver at the WTO and to support global access to COVID-19 vaccines

  8. https://twn.my/title2/intellectual_property/trips_waiver_proposal.htm; and https://www.citizen.org/wp-content/uploads/COVIDTRIPSWaiverSignOnLetter_022621.pdf

  9. Address by President Moon Jae-in to the 73rd World Health Assembly (May 18, 2020).

  10. Address by President Moon Jae-in at 75th Session of United Nations General Assembly (September 23, 2020).