Human Rights and Intellectual Property Rights

    Posted on 7 July, 2023 by EVELYN ELSA PHILIP

    Human Rights and Intellectual Property Rights

    Human Rights and Intellectual Property Rights

    Keywords –

    • Compulsorylicensing is a legal mechanism that allows a government to grant a license to a third party to use a patented product, process, or technology without the consent of the patent holder.

    • The TRIPS Agreement is the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which is a legally binding international treaty that sets minimum standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in international trade.
    • Article15 of International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Covenant).

    • The Committee undertook the preparation of a politically. and legally more significant document in the form of a General Comment.


    Understanding the relationship between human rights and intellectual property rights is crucial for building an atmosphere that respects both innovation and human dignity. Intellectual property rights provide legal protection for innovative and creative endeavours and inspire inventors to invest their time and money. Fundamental liberties including the right to free speech, information access, and the preservation and recognition of cultural rights are also provided by human rights. These rights are necessary for the development of human potential, creativity, and innovation. More and more people are realising the importance of striking a balance between the protection of human rights and IP rights. For example, in the field of copyright law, it is necessary to strike a balance between the protection of creators' rights and the need to ensure that knowledge and information are accessible to all; this tension is reflected in the development of open access policies and the growing recognition of fair use and fair dealing exceptions to copyright law; similarly, in the field of patent law, it is necessary to strike a balance between the protection of intellectual property with access to necessary As a response, provisions requiring compulsory licencing have been developed, allowing governments to sanction the use of ideas protected by copyright as long as certain requirements are met. The relationships and interdependencies between intellectual property and human rights. It is critical to achieve the correct balance between these two legal realms to promote innovation, creativity, and human dignity while guaranteeing that the rights of all individuals are safeguarded and respected.

    Over the past few years, there have been numerous significant discussions centered on the connection between human rights and contributions to knowledge. The most important legal framework for analyzing the connection between these two disciplines is, in many ways, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Covenant). First, it acknowledges certain rights, such as the rights to food and health, whose realization may be hampered in developing nations that adopt or strengthen intellectual property rights frameworks in accordance with the commitments they make under the TRIPS Agreement or other intellectual property rights treaties. Second, it acknowledges under Article 15(1)c the necessity of rewarding people and organizations who make intellectual contributions that advance society. It is important to stress right away that the Covenant's recognized incentives have nothing to do with current intellectual property rights systems. However, there is no necessary correlation between the rights acknowledged in the Covenant at Article 15 and existing intellectual property rights. There may be instances where the implementation of this right can be realized through existing intellectual property rights. This is significant because it shows that the Covenant establishes a foundation for the acknowledgement of all intellectual contributions, not just those that adhere to the paradigm of existing intellectual property rights.The claims of holders of traditional knowledge, for example, can be considered under Article 15(1) c’s broad scope. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which oversees overseeing the Covenant's implementation, made the decision several years ago to look more closely at the connection between intellectual advancement and human rights. Starting off, the Committee concentrated on how current intellectual property rights affected the achievement of human rights. In 2001, a Statement was adopted because of this.1 The Committee then started working on creating a General Comment, which was a document with greater political and legal significance. This succinct commentary looks at a few of the broad concerns that come up when analyzing the flow of general comment. It makes a case for a thorough rewrite by critically analyzing some of the draft's fundamental conceptual problems. Overall, it may be said that Article 15(1) emphasizes society's interest in culture and the advancement of science while also recognizing the rights of specific individuals or groups who have made significant individual or collective contributions to the advancement of science, the arts, or culture. In general, Article 15 is a clause that gives culture and science a lot of emphasis. The setting of Article 15(1) raises a variety of more particular difficulties. First off, it does not explain how to strike a balance between rewards and enjoyment. Second, the reward for individual contributions is not specifically stated in subsection (c), which does not specify the kinds of contributions that are covered. Many have drawn the conclusion that Article 15(1) refers to existing intellectual property rights because of this. The idea that there must be a balance between the rights granted to the property rights holder and society's interest in having access to cutting-edge advances in the arts, sciences, and technology forms the basis of intellectual property rights as they currently exist in most legal systems around the world. Although related, this is far more limited than what Article 15(1) covers. Although intellectual property rights frameworks provide rights for individual contributors, they only strike a balance with what is commonly regarded as acknowledging the greater public interest of society in generally benefiting from creative or technological advancements. Frameworks for intellectual property rights do not recognize everyone is right to individually or collectively profit from scientific advancement and its uses. Nothing in Article 15(1)c suggests that it solely refers to categories of intellectual property rights that already exist, even though readers may be tempted to draw a relationship between it and the categories of rights established in intellectual property rights frameworks.


    Human rights and intellectual property are related by their potential effects on people, societies, and the global economy. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are examples of intellectual property rights that are crucial for fostering innovation, creativity, and economic progress. They encourage people and businesses to put time, money, and resources into creating new goods and services, which can result in the creation of jobs, an uptick in commerce, and an improvement in living conditions. Human rights, however, are essential for ensuring people's safety and welfare. They consist of privileges like the right to life, freedom of speech, access to healthcare, and the right to an education. A cornerstone of a just and fair society, human rights are inscribed in international law. The importance and relevance of the connection between intellectual property and human rights lies in the potential ramifications of legal disputes between these two notions. For instance, it can seriously affect people's health and well-being when intellectual property rights are used to restrict access to necessary medications. Like how access to educational resources can be restricted by intellectual property laws, this can limit opportunities for people and communities to advance their economic situation and contribute to society. On the other hand, encouraging innovation and creativity can result in new technology and goods that have the potential to improve people's lives. This is why it is important to preserve intellectual property rights. By encouraging pharmaceutical companies to spend in R&D, for instance, patent protection for life-saving medications can eventually result in the creation of new and more powerful therapies.


    Everyone has the right to profit from scientific advancement and its applications, including intellectual property rights, according to Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Covenant). By vesting authors of intellectual works with exclusive rights, intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights, are examples of legal protection that aim to encourage innovation and creativity. The Covenant acknowledges the importance of preserving the freedom necessary for intellectual inquiry and artistic expression. In order to maintain and advance intellectual property rights, this also involves the ability to carry out research and create new concepts without impediment. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and The Covenant also acknowledges the advantages to be gained from fostering and expanding global connections and collaboration in the domains of science and culture. This emphasises how crucial international collaboration is in promoting and safeguarding intellectual property rights and making sure that the advantages of scientific advancement and its uses are distributed among all people and nations. In general, Article 15 of the Covenant emphasises the necessity of international collaboration in the scientific and artistic domains while recognising the significance of intellectual property rights as a means of fostering innovation and creativity. It also emphasises the value of upholding the freedom necessary for intellectual inquiry and artistic expression as well as the necessity of striking a balance between the protection of human rights and that of intellectual property rights.





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