More than 50,000 Australians want Australian Govt. to stop blocking the TRIPS waiver

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By SAT News Desk

SYDNEY, Ahead of the WTO TRIPS Council meeting, a group of civil society organizations including Amnesty International Australia, GetUp!, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, AFTINET, Public Services International, and the Humanism Project gathered outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Sydney today to hand over more than 50,000 signatures in support of fair access for vaccines for all.

The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international treaty which regulates intellectual property rights.

In October 2020, India, South Africa, Kenya, and Eswatini proposed a temporary waiver on provisions of the TRIPS Agreement due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. This waiver would entail the removal of the hefty barriers to research, creation, and supply, which are large obstacles to the ‘prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19.

Addressing the gathering Tim O’Connor, Amnesty International Australia Campaigns Manager, said: “Amnesty International is calling on the Australian government to stop blocking the TRIPs waiver and not put big pharma ahead of people. Australia has a vital role to play in the equal access of vaccines, particularly in our region. We want Australia to be the good global citizen when it comes to promoting and defending human rights, especially in the time of COVID-19.”

Dr. Haroon Kasim from The Humanism Project said: “We urge the Australian government to recognize their human rights obligations, recognize the right to health and life for all, stop blocking a consensus decision on TRIPS waiver and support developing states to more readily protect themselves and their citizens from this raging pandemic. The right to health and life should be the most important consideration in these decisions.”

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Paul Oosting, GetUp National Director, said: “It’s abhorrent that Australia is one of twelve member states blocking this lifesaving proposal. Over 50,000 people have signed petitions to demand the Morrison Government stand with people and not profits for big pharmaceutical companies. The COVID-19 vaccine waiver is more than just intellectual property – it’s a matter of life and death.”

Others who addressed those gathered were Kate Lee, APHEDA EO, Michael Whaites, Manager – Public Health Organising Team, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, and Dr. Patricia Ranald, convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network.

Today’s action was supported by Amnesty International Australia, Getup, The Humanist Project, ACTU, AFTINET, PSI, and the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network.

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