The Impact of a TRIPS COVID Waiver on Trade and Investment Agreements

February 4, 2022 | 10am EST | 3pm GMT
Co-Sponsored by the American Branch of the International Law Association and the South Centre

Watch a Recording of the Event

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Ruse-Khan and Paddeu

The event will feature a presentation of a new South Centre report by Federica Paddeu and Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan (see abstract below), followed by a round table discussion with international law experts. The Seminar is scheduled for 90 minutes in a public and recorded session, followed by a 30 minute off-camera virtual reception held under Chatham House Rule.


This report considers legal implications that are likely to emerge from the potential implementation of a TRIPS Waiver decision. Assuming that a Waiver is adopted in the form presented in the May 2021 proposal by South Africa and India et al, we review the interaction between the Waiver and other commitments to protect IP rights under international IP and investment treaties. Our principal research question is to analyze whether domestic measures implementing the Waiver are compatible with the implementing State’s other obligations to protect IP rights established under multilateral IP treaties, IP and Investment Chapters of FTAs as well as BITs. In light of typical examples for such overlapping commitments, we first focus on (1) defences directly affecting compatibility with these treaty commitments (here referred to as ‘internal’ defences). In a second part, we review (2) potential defences under general international law that may serve to justify (in other words, to preclude the wrongfulness of) such measures. We conclude that often internal and/or general defences will operate to support the implementation of the Waiver despite overlapping commitments in international IP and investment law. This conclusion is reinforced by a purpose-oriented understanding of the TRIPS Waiver as authorizing measures necessary to achieve the goal of ‘unimpeded, timely and secure access’ for all to covered medical technologies ‘for the prevention, treatment or containment of COVID-19’.

Full Report: 

A TRIPS-COVID Waiver and Overlapping Commitments to Protect Intellectual Property Rights Under International IP and Investment Agreements


  • Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan
    Professor of International and European Intellectual Property Law; Co-Director of CIPIL; Fellow and Director of Studies (King's College), University of Cambridge
  • Dr. Federica Paddeu
    Abogado (UCAB, Venezuela), LLM, PhD (Cantab), Derek Bowett Fellow in Law, Queens’ College; Fellow, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law


  • Daniel Uribe
    Lead Program Officer, South Centre
  • Professor Rochelle Dreyfuss
    Pauline Newman Professor of Law, NYU School of Law,
  • Professor Holger Hestermeyer
    Professor of International and EU Law at King's College London,
  • Professor Peter K. Yu
    Regents Professor of Law and Communication and Director, Center for Law and Intellectual Property, Texas A&M  University School of Law, Co-Chair, International Intellectual Property Law Committee, American Branch of the International Law Association
  • Nirmalya Syam
    Senior Program Officer, South Centre