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Archived updates for Tuesday, November 22, 2005

UN Interprets Covenent on Author's Rights

According to William New, writing for Intellectual Property Watch on November 21, 2005, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has adopted a General Comment interpreting Article 15.1.c of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regarding protection of authors of written, music, art and other works.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the covenant by its States parties. All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially within two years of accepting the Covenant and thereafter every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

Article 15.1.c requires "The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize 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." The new General Comment concludes that
The Committee considers of fundamental importance the integration of
international human rights norms into the enactment and interpretation of
intellectual property law. Consequently, States parties should guarantee the
social dimensions of intellectual property, in accordance with international
human rights obligations to which they have committed themselves. An explicit
commitment to do so and the establishment of a mechanism for a human rights
review of intellectual property systems are important steps towards that goal.

Lead drafter Eibe Riedel, a law professor at the University of Mannheim, Germany, reportedly said “The significance of this interpretation is that states, when they have to report to our committee once every five years, will have to report on [Article 15.1.c], which had never been done before.” Riedel also said it likely would fall to non-governmental organisations to inform committee members of violations in countries before the governments report to the committee. “Now if NGOs are clever, they will use this,” he said. Victims may be entitled to compensation or satisfaction.
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