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Urgent Communique: International Experts Find that Pending Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Threatens Public Interests

A gathering of over 90 legal academics, practitioners, and public interest organizations from 6 continents met at American University Washington College of Law last week to draft an Urgent Communique concerning the public interest aspects of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).  

The international experts found that ACTA is a deeply flawed proposal created by a deeply flawed process that threatens to undermine fundamental freedoms at the global level.   IP Justice participated in the meeting which was hosted by the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP). 

ACTA aims to regulate the flow of information in a digital environment and it threatens access to knowledge, culture, and medicines, strips individual privacy rights, legal due process rights, the rights of developing nations, and represents a stark form of modern-day imperialism and exploitation.   

The Urgent Communique reflects the conclusions reached by the global experts meeting, and within 24-hours, was endorsed by over 640 additional public interest organizations, legal experts, Members of EU Parliament, and individuals representing all corners of the globe.  The statement is released one week before ACTA negotiators will meet in Lucerne, Switzerland (28 June - 2 July 2010) with an eye to conclude the treaty negotiations.

The Urgent Communique explains:

 

“We find that the terms of the publicly released draft of ACTA threaten numerous public interests, including every concern specifically disclaimed by negotiators.

 

    Negotiators claim ACTA will not interfere with citizens’ fundamental rights and liberties; it will.

    * They claim ACTA is consistent with the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); it is not.

    * They claim ACTA will not increase border searches or interfere with cross-border transit of legitimate generic medicines; it will.

    * And they claim that ACTA does not require "graduated response" disconnections of people from the internet; however, the agreement strongly encourages such policies.

 

“ACTA is the predictably deficient product of a deeply flawed process. What started as a relatively simple proposal to coordinate customs enforcement has transformed into a sweeping and complex new international intellectual property and internet regulation with grave consequences for the global economy and governments’ ability to promote and protect the public interest.

 

“Any agreement of this scope and consequence must be based on a broad and meaningful consultative process, in public, on the record and with open on-going access to proposed negotiating text and must reflect a full range of public interest concerns. As detailed below, this text fails to meet these standards.

 

“Recognizing that the terms of the agreement are under further closed-door negotiation over a text we do not have access to, a fair reading of the April 2010 draft leads to our conclusion that ACTA is hostile to the public interest in at least seven critical areas of global public policy: fundamental rights and freedoms; internet governance; access to medicines; scope and nature of intellectual property law; international trade; international law and institutions; and democratic process.”



Read the full Urgent Communique and a partial list of original endorsements

Translations of Urgent Communique: