The Capacity Building Project on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and Sustainable Development is being implemented by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) over two years. The main goals of the project are as follows:

  • To improve understanding of the development implications of the TRIPS Agreement.

  • To strengthen the analytical and negotiating capacity of developing countries so that they are better able to participate in IPR-related negotiations in an informed fashion in furtherance of their sustainable development objectives.

Outputs of the project

The project is producing a series of documents through a participatory process involving trade negotiators, national policy makers, as well as eminent experts in the field, the media, NGOs, international organizations, and institutions in the North and the South dealing with IPRs and development. The published outputs are not intended to be academic exercises, but instruments that, in their final forms, will be the result of a thorough process of consultation. This is being achieved by rapid development of working drafts and circulation of these to experts and to the intended audiences for their comments. These documents include:

  • Policy Discussion Paper

    This is intended to be a clear, jargon-free synthesis of the main issues to help policy makers, stakeholders and the public in developing and developed countries to understand the varying perspectives surrounding different IPRs, their known or possible impact on sustainable livelihoods and development, and different policy positions over TRIPS.

  • Regional Research Agenda

    A series of policy-oriented research papers on specific IP issues, written by regional experts. The studies focus on specific IP issues that have been identified as research gaps by particpants in UNCTAD-ICTSD Regional Dialogues. They aim is to increase the visibility of developing country concerns and evidence in IP debates, and to contribute directly to the national and regional policy-making. The studies involve collaboration between regional research institutions in developing countries.

  • Research Tools

    Research on background material includes a literature survey on intellectual property rights and sustainable human development and ongoing work in the areas covered by the project. In addition, a typology of developing countries in relation to IPR issues and based on their technological development will be elaborated. Data on technology-related indicators, as well as other relevant information, including royalty payments, will be collected and compiled. 

  • Resource Book on TRIPS and Development

    This is conceived as a guide that will provide background and technical information on the main issues under discussion in TRIPS. It should be a practical tool for negotiators and policymakers in order to facilitate their informed participation in negotiations and decision-making processes.

  • Case studies

    The Project provides a series of Case Studies on various IPR issues to supplement the Resource Book and the Paper. This allows concrete evidence to emerge and shed light on the impact and relevance of IPRs in developing countries. The case studies have been selected on the basis of concerns expressed by developing countries as well as priority areas identified by their negotiators. They
    cover sectors such as compulsory licensing, technology transfer, food security, and geographical indications.


Dissemination of the outputs is taking place through the Project website, and through a series of regional workshops. Five workshops are envisaged, in principle, in different parts of the developing world. They will take place during the second phase of the Project in order to benefit from the work accomplished during the first phase. They will build on regional meetings and networks being developed by other institutions working in related areas (such as the Quaker United Nations Office, Geneva.

Institutional matters

The Project is managed jointly by the UNCTAD secretariat and ICTSD, and is guided by a steering committee consisting of Mr Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz (Executive Director of ICTSD), Mr James Zhan (Chief, International Arrangements Section, DITE), Mr Pedro Roffe (Project Director, ICTSD); supported by Mr Christoph Spennemann (UNCTAD), Mr David Vivas (ICTSD) and Ms Gina Vea (ICTSD).

A Panel of Reviewers consisting of specialist on intellectual property rights has been established to provide guidance and orientation to the various phases of the implementation of the Project and to ensure that the outputs achieve high standards of quality and objectivity.

© ICTSD 2004 - Last Update: 05-Oct-2009