US faith-based groups call for no TRIPS-plus in NAFTA

Top leadership from multiple major faith denominations strongly reaffirmed their traditions’ recognition of the human right to health, and insisted that trade agreements including a renegotiated NAFTA should not include terms that extend medicine monopolies.

The statement, found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/trade/upload/NAFTA-and-International-Public-Health-An-Interfaith-Call-for-Access-to-Medicines.pdf , is signed by the leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Excerpts:

“Recognizing the inherent dignity of the human person, our faith traditions call us to care for the sick and respond to the needs of the poor in our societies. Trade agreements can have enormous impacts on the ability of the sick and the poor to access the medicines they need for healing and even survival. Therefore, we agree with the provisions of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), currently in effect in all NAFTA countries . . .

Crucially, as was underscored by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, it also recognizes each nation’s right to take necessary steps to ensure that medicines are available to all of their residents . . .

We call on you to ensure that no terms of a renegotiated NAFTA go beyond the TRIPS agreement mandates, and avoid enhanced and extended monopolies on life-essential medicines. Instead, we ask that a renegotiated NAFTA reaffirm the TRIPS public health protections that enable the United States and other countries to promote the human right to health and access to medicines for all.”

This statement is positioned to serve as a foundation for consensus faith community advocacy for access to medicines beyond the NAFTA discussions. So please let PFAM know if you have suggestions for follow-up at any faith community level, including congregations and even individuals who can help organize and support this advocacy. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work bringing this statement to the public stage, with special thanks going to Jubilee Network USA.

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