Human Rights and the WTO: The Case of Patents and Access to Medicines

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2007 - Law - 369 pages
0 Reviews
The international trading system has come under increasing attack by activists as being in conflict with human rights law, yet some have defended the system as contributing more to the fulfillment of human rights than many other areas of international law. This study examines the alleged conflict of WTO law with international human rights law, using one of the most prominent examples of such a conflict: the one that exists between international patent law, and access to medication as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This highly controversial political issue of the appropriate use of international patent law on life saving medicines gained the world's attention during the discussion about the price of AIDS medication, but recent instances also include the availability of the patented medication for bird flu and for anthrax.

The book discusses both the patent law and the international human rights law involved in great depth, distinguishing between obligations under different human rights instruments and including a highly readable introduction into both areas of law. It then explains the concept of conflict between legal regimes and why patent law and human rights law are in conflict. The current state of international law on the conflict between legal regimes and the origin of such conflicts is analyzed, covering such issues as hierarchy in international law and introducing the concept of 'factual hierarchy'. The book then turns to the role of human rights law in the WTO system, concluding that such law currently is limited to aiding the interpreting of the WTO agreements. It shows how a further integration of human rights law could be achieved and describes the progress made towards accommodating human rights concerns within the TRIPS Agreement, culminating in the first ever decision to amend a core WTO Agreement in December 2005.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Patent Law
complaint by Japan WTDS162R 2000 178
Raymond 31 US 218 1832

26 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Dr. Hestermeyer graduated from Munster University Law School (Germany), received an LL.M. from the University of California at Berkeley (USA) and a doctorate from Hamburg University's School of Law (Germany). He worked as a junior researcher at Heidelberg's Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public and Public International Law, clerked in Hamburg and worked as a trainee solicitor for the German Foreign Office as well as law firms in Hamburg, Madrid and Alicante. He returned to Heidelberg's Max Planck Institute as a research fellow in 2006. Dr. Hestermeyer is admitted to the New York State Bar, he is a former Fulbright Fellow, German National Merit Foundation Fellow and German National Merit Foundation Doctoral Fellow.

Bibliographic information