Wednesday, November 07, 2007

WHO is trampling freedom of expression?

A few friends in our Asian Liberty Forum (ALF) ygroups, Alec vanGelder of IPN (London) and Barun Mitra of Liberty Institute (Delhi) were barred by WHO bureaucrats from attending the WHO meeting in Geneva. Only NGOs, sometimes more aptly called government-funded organizations (GFOs), who are in favor of weakening (if not abolishing) intellectual property rights in health and medicine innovation, were allowed and heard.

Pretty soon, it is possible that we'll have some private medicine innovators shifting to innovating new skin whitening, new shampoo, new bath soap, new toothpaste, new fat burners, but not new and more effective medicines to cure human diseases. Why? Your IPR in developing new shampoo is respected. But your IPR in developing more effective medicines to cure AIDS or respiratory disorder or hypertension is weakened. Thanks to the health socialists, manygovernments and the WHO!

Below is a note from Julian Morris in the November 2007 issue of IPN Newsletter:

FREEDOM of speech is a fundamental human right. It also underpins liberal democracy. When the state intimidates, imprisons, or murders journalists solely for what they have written or might write, it gives up the pretence of both liberty and democracy. The list of states that engage in such vile acts is, sadly, long. Russia and Iran are among the most egregious, but Burma and Egypt have been doing their bit to catch up. This Friday, a second series of rallies are being held around the world for Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, a 22-year-oldEgyptian blogger who last year was imprisoned for four years for things he wrote on his blog. I believe that those of us able to speak freely have an obligation to defend those denied that freedom. So I encourage you to take part in the Free Kareem rally near you – if you are able.

Meanwhile, as I write this, freedom of speech, private property and the rule of law are all being undermined by the World Health Organisation. At its headquarters in Geneva, the WHO is holding a meeting to discuss plans to create a new global treaty that would transfer medical research and development from the private sector to the government. IPN has arranged for several people to be at the WHO to explain why it would harm human health and hold up progress. Unfortunately, Alec van Gelder and Philip Stevens from IPN, as well as Barun Mitra from the Liberty Institute in New Delhi, Tom Giovanetti from the Institute for Policy Innovation, and Jerry Norris from the Hudson Institute, have all been barred not only from observing the meeting, but from entering the Palais in Geneva where the meeting is taking place. By contrast, the many NGO proponents of health socialism have been allowed in; some are in the drafting room ... This selective denial of voice to legitimate representatives of civil society highlights the lack of democratic legitimacy of organisations such as the WHO.

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