GENEVA, 9 July 2012 – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, hailed the European Parliament’s rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as a step in the right direction in ensuring continued access to affordable and essential drugs and medication essential for the fulfilment of the right to health.
The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted against an international anti-piracy trade agreement on Wednesday, July 4, after the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) had sparked street protests in various cities across Europe.
According to The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), one of the major concerns with ACTA was that had it not been adopted properly and implemented with some basis in reality, it would “have had unacceptable side effects on fundamental rights of individuals".
Several NGO’s like Amnesty International and Oxfam International had long urged EU governments not to join ACTA, branding it a “Pandora’s box” of potential human rights violations. They had also expressed concerns over ACTA empowering multinational drug companies by asking customs officers in exporting, transit and importing countries to seize legitimate and safe generic medicines on the false grounds that they are counterfeit goods.
In his 2009 report* on access to medicines and intellectual property rights to the UN General Assembly, Mr Grover had already warned about lack of transparency and secrecy surrounding the negotiations on ACTA.
“ACTA’s defeat in Europe is a welcome blow to the flawed agreement that has failed to address numerous concerns related to access to medicines” Mr Grover said.
In July 2011, the UN Human Rights Council requested the Special Rapporteur to study existing challenges with regard to access to medicines, ways to overcome them and good practices. He will present the study to the Council in June 2013.
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