North-South Asymmetries: Intellectual Property, Technology Transfers, and the Human Right to Health
Balsillie School of International Affairs, Canada
Informed by the modernization theory of Rostow, Milikan, and Rosenstein-Rodan, development as a form of post-WWII world-making deepened the structural divide between Global North and the Global South. One of the areas was the campaign to mesh technology transfer within the global intellectual property regime (IPR). This effort eventually came into force in 1995 when the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) took effect. While there were international and regional efforts to harmonize intellectual property laws prior to TRIPS, the protection of intellectual property rights varied significantly amongst countries – some decolonized countries had kept their old Acts and Ordinances from the colonial era while others had laws in place that peeved developed countries by explicitly refusing to grant patents to things like medical technologies. As such, TRIPS was the effort to reshape the laws of these countries and to secure the benefits of intellectual property ownership on a global scale for purposes of rent transfers from the Global South to the Global North. While human rights have posed a powerful challenge to TRIPS, there is a cruel and absurd irony of using human rights as the arbitrator between two legitimate human rights claims: from the creator who has the human rights claim to their invention and from the user who has the human rights to enjoy the advancements of science. Moreover, even with all the flexibilities built within TRIPS and bolstered by the 2001 Doha Declaration on Public Health, such as compulsory licensing, developing countries have never been able to take full advantage of them and these flexibilities are slowly tightening. Lastly, the proliferation of generic pharmaceuticals industries in places like India that have supplied essential medicines to the global poor are becoming unsuitable for this role.
Heroes of the Developing World? Emerging Powers in WTO Agriculture Negotiations and Dispute Settlement
University of British Columbia, Canada
Amid contemporary power shifts in the global political economy, a major question is what impact the rise of emerging powers, such as China, India and Brazil, is having on the rest of the developing world. The rhetoric of the emerging powers heavily emphasizes South-South solidarity, cooperation and shared struggle against the traditional dominance of the Global North in global economic governance. But are developing countries as a whole being empowered by the rise of new powers from the Global South? This article contributes to this debate by analyzing important recent developments in WTO negotiations and dispute settlement on agriculture. Agriculture has been a key issue of North-South struggle at the WTO, and it is one in which the emerging powers have portrayed themselves as leaders of the developing world, defending and promoting the interests of the Global South and crusading to make the multilateral trading system fairer and more responsive to the needs of developing countries and their farmers. I focus on three cases – the cotton dispute, subsidies and public stockholding – that have been at the center of WTO activity on agriculture since the collapse of the Doha Round in 2011. Drawing on these three cases, I show that despite presenting themselves as champions of the developing world, the emerging powers have been advancing their own interests, often at the expense of other developing countries.
How Colonial Discourse Distorts Anti-‘Development’ as “Conversion” Attempts
University of Calgary, Canada
Whether investigating a link between religious affiliation and economic growth (Offutt; Picker; Bowyer), or assessing the study of religion in development studies (Deneulin and Rakodi), or raising some questions about secularism as the norm for development studies (Carbonnier; Levy), scholars hark to the role of religion and the religious in modifying the terms of development. According to Gilles Carbonnier, “The lack of attention to religion and faith in development research and policy … stands in stark contrast to the paramount role played by religion.” In this spirit, my paper will introduce the case of a Catholic nun, Sr. Rani Maria, who worked among the poor and the exploited in the city of Indore in India and was murdered for “converting” Hindus. The nun had a Master’s degree in Social Work and was working among an extremely underprivileged indigenous (“tribal”) community and, as sources say, helping them to be self-reliant in the face of modern feudal lords and their thugs. Her assassin, however, testified that he had murdered her for trying to convert the tribal population. This conflict or conflation of commerce and conversion, economics and religion, and its rendering in online and print media have received very little attention in Religion and Development Studies. When the concerned religion is Christianity, the problem tends to fall into the colonial equation of Christianity in India as colonial and of Indian Christians as colonial converts. Sr. Rani Maria, however, came from a community of pre-colonial Christians who claim a tradition that goes back to the mission of the Apostle Thomas in India. My paper will, therefore, investigate the discourse of “conversion” as a colonial legacy and propose the need to re-assess the place of Christianity in India in order to fully understand the link between religious conflict and the role of “development.”
Inequitable Ruptures, Rupturing Inequity: Theorizing COVID-19 and racial injustice impacts on International Service Learning
1York University, Canada; 2Concordia University, Canada
COVID-19 has presented a time of rupture; a moment wherein we have witnessed increased mainstream attention to racial inequity, alongside a deepening of existing inequities along other axes of identity including gender, nationality, disability and class. We are proposing that we collectively take seriously these ruptures as a starting point for re-imagining social learning; specifically in the context of service learning and learning that happens in the context of development work. We are using three ruptures as moments for imagining - and doing – otherwise: (i) Black Lives Matter and persistent racial inequity, (ii) class inequity exacerbated under COVID-19 both locally and internationally, (iii) mutual aid as increasingly necessary in a pandemic and as a possible relational way forward. These ruptures intersect and inform each other and we do imagine them as porous and complex.
We want to think about these intersecting moments of rupture as both a space for possibility as the pandemic and new orientations to travel might break down international service learning (ISL) completely, but also because these ruptures disturb the idea that ISL is in itself a harmonious or reciprocal practice.
We want to think through the deep inequities and reproduction of colonial relationships of power that structure ISL experiences in, but not exclusively, the Global South and ways this moment can create lasting ruptures in these reproductions.