IP Disputes in Medicine

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Musical Chairs doesn't disrupt policy discussion at IGWG

by Ben Krohmal

While the highlight of this morning's IGWG session was the statement of Iran on behalf of the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Organization (EMRO), the session began and ended with disputes over seating arrangements (statement link forthcoming). It had been suggested that seating be switched from a quasi-alphabetical setup to one with members of each regional group seated together. The U.S. delegation expressed approval for the proposal on the condition that new seating blocks include only member states, while Finland, on behalf of the EU, insisted that the European Commission delegation be permitted to sit with the EURO regional group. As the meeting reconvenes, seating has been rearranged, and the U.S. appears to have won out for now as the European Commission is still seated at the back.

There was concern that squabbles over seating would dominate the afternoon session, but Thailand and India have gotten discussion underway with strong policy based statements. Following a metaphor about a sparrow made by the Chair, Thailand declaired that in this case, "The small sparrow is not afraid of the eagle." India followed with a statement in support of a "treaty arrangement" and supported EMRO's call for further discussion of alternative incentives for R&D. Norway then reminded member states that IP flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement go beyond just paragraph 6, which was followed by an elaboration by a WTO representative. This represents an expansion of discussion on TRIPS flexibilities beyond the narrow focus in several previous statements, particularly by the European Commission. A very strong start for the afternoon session.


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