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Approaching intellectual property as a human right: obligations related to article 15 (1) (c)

A detailed discussion paper that presents a human rights approach to intellectual property rights. The paper was submitted to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for its discussion on "The right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author", which took place in Geneva in November 2000.

The paper starts with the premise that the manner in which creative works, cultural heritage, and scientific knowledge are turned into property has significant human rights implications. Various international human rights instruments have enumerated the right of an author, creator, and inventor to some form of recognition and benefit from their intellectual products — including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Article 15 (1) (c).

Recent trends underscore the need for a human rights approach to intellectual property; as various economic actors rush to stake claims over creative works and forms of knowledge — for example, through the provisions of the international agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights — human rights are being trampled. The author warns that unless human rights advocates provide an effective intellectual and organisational counterweight to economic interests, the intellectual property landscape will be reshaped in the years ahead without adequate consideration of the impact on human rights.

 

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