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Global Civil Society and Health Advocacy in Intellectual Property Related Issues

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Civil society organizations and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) act as policy watchdogs and often represent the voices of marginalized populations. The importance of advocates in the field of Intellectual Property is apparent now more than ever. The global stage is changing; what were previously considered domestic issues have been thrust onto the international stage by agreements such as the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPS) (Sell & Prakash, 2004; Drahos & Braithwaite, 2001). The private sector has the resources to make their position heard; however, most other populations in society do not. Therefore, civil society and NGO groups are integral to advocating for health. The current trend of TRIPS+ style agreements which include much more stringent intellectual property rights (IPRs) laws, mean that the fight for access to medicines and medical technologies is intensifying. This capstone uses a review of existing literature to explore the emerging concept of a global civil society, and the state of advocacy in Intellectual Property related issues. An interview with an advocate in the field helps inform how civil society organizations pursue their goals in the new IPR regime. The results of this capstone indicate that effective communications, strong relationships between organization and community, and an organizational emphasis on fostering individual work connections are integral to success.
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