Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Sustainable Development

Arab Regional Dialogue, organised by ICTSD, Bibliotheca Alexandrina and UNCTAD
Alexandria, 26-28 June 2005

Description | Programme | Participants | Documents


Over recent years, there has been an unprecedented increase in the scope and level of protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and geographical indications. This trend has generated new opportunities, but also new tensions around key public policy concerns such as public health, food security, education, innovation, transfer of technology and biodiversity management. While much of the debate still focuses on the WTO TRIPs Agreement, higher standards of protection, with narrowed down exceptions (TRIPs – plus) are increasingly being included in new bilateral and regional free trade agreements. In a knowledge-based economy, a strong understanding of IPRs and their development implications is indispensable to informed policy making in all areas of human development.

Christoph Spennemann, UNCTAD; Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, ICTSD; Ismail Seragelden, Director, Library of Alexandria; Pedro Roffe, ICTSD.
As a contribution to this debate, the Arab Regional Dialogue aimed to:

1. Provide a platform for strategic discussions among relevant stakeholders on trends and thematic issues in the area of intellectual property (IP) and their implications for sustainable development;
2. Analyse current trends in IP standard-setting in the Arab region;
3. Explore linkages between sustainable development policies and intellectual property in areas such as health; nutrition; access to information and knowledge goods; and the protection of cultural goods, folklore and traditional knowledge;
4. Develop elements of a "regional agenda" for development-oriented IP policies and informal mechanisms for its advancement, through mainly joint research and networking.

The Dialogue focused on four topics:

1. General trends and the emerging international IP architecture
2. Health - 2005 and Beyond
3. Access to Knowledge and Educational Material
4. The protection of expressions of folklore, cultural heritage and traditional knowledge in the Arab region

A total of 25-30 participants were invited to the Regional Dialogue. Participants included a variety of stakeholders including negotiators, government experts, international governmental organizations, academia and civil society organizations. Emphasis was placed on actors at the regional and national level so as to widen participation and promote reforms and changes at those levels.

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