Home > Climate Change, IP, Trade > Columbian IP Agreement continues to Raise Human Rights Concerns

Columbian IP Agreement continues to Raise Human Rights Concerns

FlagDuring Columbia’s periodic review by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, specifically the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, several recommendations were made relating to intellectual property (IP) rights. 

The official UN report can be found here and CIEL’s publications relating to Trade Agreements and IP can be accessed here.

With respect to Access to Medicines, examining the US-Columbia Free Trade Agreement, the Committee noted that: 

The Committee is also concerned that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between the State party and the United States contains provisions on intellectual property that may result in increase of prices of medicines and negatively impact on the enjoyment of the right to health, in particular of those with low income (arts. 1, 12).

…In this regard, the Committee recommends that the State party consider revising the intellectual property provisions of the Free Trade Agreement signed with the United States, in order to ensure protection against the increase of the price of medicines, in particular for those with low income.  (para. 10)

With respect to development projects, including those that would be under the ambit of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, the Committee noted:

The Committee recommends that the State party take concrete measures to review the processes concerning infrastructure, development and mining projects and fully implement decisions of the Constitutional Court in this regard. The Committee also recommends that the State party review the Presidential Directive 001 and the draft bill elaborated by the Working Party on Prior Consultation of the Ministry of the Interior. The Committee further recommends that the State party adopt legislation in consultation with and the participation of indigenous and afro-colombian people, that clearly establishes the right to free, prior and informed consent in conformity with ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, as well as the relevant decisions of the Constitutional Court.  (para. 9)

On Biofuels, the committee notes that:

The Committee is concerned that the policy encouraging agro-exporting goods, such as agro-fuels, may deprive peasants from cultivating their lands. The Committee is also concerned about the unequal distribution of lands owned by a minority of the population, as well as about the absence of a genuine agrarian reform, as recommended in the previous concluding observations of the Committee (art. 11).

The Committee recommends that the State party develop agricultural policies which prioritize the production of food; implement programs that protect national food production with incentives for small producers; and ensure the restitution of lands taken from indigenous and afro-colombian peoples, as well as peasant communities.   (para. 22)

Regarding Access to Knowledge and Education:

The Committee recommends that the State party take immediate measures to ensure access of all children without discrimination, to free and compulsory primary education.  (para. 29)

In addition to these recommendations by the Committee, on GMOs the Seeds Group presented its report on Genetically Modified Organisms and the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Columbia.  The report states: 

The policies and practices of the Colombian State concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have violated, and threaten to continue violating, the rights of indigenous peoples in Colombia, including their rights to self-determination, prior consultation, participation, property, culture, food, heath, and a healthy environment.

In 2005, the Colombian State issued a decree that regulates the approval of GMOs. Though indigenous peoples will be affected by the release of genetically modified (GM) seeds, they were not consulted before the approval of this decree; nor does the decree provide for any consultation during the approval process for each seed. Under this decree, the processes by which certain GM seeds have been approved have violated the Colombian State’s obligation to apply the precautionary principle, and have not taken into account scientific studies that have demonstrated the threat that GM seeds pose to native seeds, human health, and the environment.

The next periodic report of Columbia is due to be submitted by July 2015.

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