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June 2016

Policy brief: The relationship between intellectual property rights and small-scale farmer innovation

The relationship between intellectual property (IP) and small-scale farmer innovation is far from straightforward. The majority of innovation in agriculture is not driven by the promise of exclusionary rights that some IP tools afford — it takes place on the farm and is a collaborative and incremental process, the outcomes of which cannot be attributed to individual rights holders.

However some IP tools – when carefully selected and adapted to suit domestic circumstances – may have the potential to help drive small-scale farmer innovation or, at minimum, allow the space for it to occur unimpeded.

This paper discusses how alternative or sui generis plant variety protection systems, collective and certification trademarks, and geographical indications may encourage on-farm innovation.

On the other hand, IP tools that are more conventionally believed to incentivise innovation in agriculture (i.e. patents, UPOV-style plant variety protection systems, and less commonly trade secrets) have the potential to impede on-farm innovation.

Policy makers at the national level should take into account the value of small-scale farmer innovation for national and global food security when developing national food security strategies, and take advantage of the flexibilities allowed under the WTO TRIPS Agreement when implementing IP legislation that reflects the realities of domestic agricultural sectors.

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December 2015

Policy Brief: The relationship between food security policy measures and WTO trade rules

This report first provides a historical overview of both the concept of food security and the incorporation of agriculture into international trade negotiations. It then turns to the relationship between food security policy options and the WTO’s trade rules, and highlights opportunities for governments to implement policies that support food security while meeting their international obligations. It concludes by laying out a range of policy measures to enhance food security, assessing the compatibility of each with WTO regulations. 

Prepared by David Elliott, based on a full-length report by Kim Burnett, available below. 

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December 2015

Policy Brief: Small-scale farmer innovation

This policy brief consolidates lessons learned from an in-depth literature review on small-scale farmer (SSF) innovation systems and a two-day expert consultation on the same topic that QUNO hosted in May 2015. 

The key message here is that small-scale farmer innovation systems are unique relative to more ‘formal’ agricultural innovation systems. For this reason, the types of policies that are put in place to encourage innovation in agriculture require a fundamental reconsideration.

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August 2015

Realizing the right to food in an era of climate change

Agriculture is a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change, and in turn climate change threatens the viability of food production around the world. The spread of capital- and technology-intensive 'industrial' agriculture in the modern era has been accompanied by an erosion of on-farm genetic diversity, a loss of local knowledge, and the abandonment of traditional farming practices. This undermines our capacity to adapt to already-changing climatic conditions.

This report highlights the role of small-scale farmers as innovators and custodians of food system diversity, a critical resource in ensuring the realization of the right to food in an era of climate change. Taking an innovation systems perspective, it proposes a new framework for the design of collaborative agricultural research projects and agendas, and notes the need for pro-active policy measures in creating an enabling environment for such partnerships.

The report is available for download free by clicking on the link below.

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December 2014

Trade Liberalization and Food Security: Examining the Linkages

The paper is released as part of our project working towards a New Framework for Trade & Investment in Agriculture, in which we are exploring some of the questions at the heart of defining the purpose, structure and direction of governance of trade and investment in agriculture, in order to place livelihoods, dignity, sustainability, resilience and food security at the heart of the rules governing these areas.

The analysis presented in the paper highlights three points:

  • First, it shows that the dominant neoclassical economic arguments for agricultural trade have many caveats that need to be put out in the open and examined in light of food security concerns.
  • Second, it shows that current trade theory tends to utilize an outdated notion of food security, and could benefit from a more nuanced understanding of the concept.
  • Third, it shows that trade theory and policy tends to prioritize efficiency (in a narrow sense) over other social goals, including ensuring the right to food, the need to preserve livelihoods and to protect the environment.

Given the political importance of these social goals, the paper suggests that we are only likely to see advancement of the dialogue on trade policy and food security once these broader goals are put on equal footing with trade and efficiency concerns.

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September 2013

Children of Parents Sentenced to Death or Executed: How are they affected? How can they be supported?

This document highlights the experiences of children with a parent(s) accused of a capital crime. From the point of arrest, to sentencing, to release or execution of the sentence, the study points out the devastating effects on these children’s physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, these consequences are not paid much attention in criminal justice systems. The study concludes with recommendations for States.

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June 2013

Lightening the Load of the Parental Death Sentence on Children

This is a very detailed study exploring the situations of children whose parents have been sentenced with capital punishment. It looks first at the commonalities between their experiences and those of children whose parents have been incarcerated, and then at the differences between these groups of children. It also sets out recommendations.

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May 2013

A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System

A user-friendly Guide to using Human Rights System for Conscientious Objectors. Together with the Centre for Civil and Political Rights, War Resisters International and Conscience and Peace Tax International, QUNO has made this guide available on-line and on paper. The Guide, in its own words, “is mainly intended as a web publication […], which allows users a quick overview of relevant human rights mechanisms applicable to their situation. While it can be read as a book, its main use is as an interactive guide. It is aimed at conscientious objectors to military service anywhere in the world who struggle for the recognition of their right to conscientious objection, or against discrimination for being a conscientious objector, and who want to use international or regional human rights systems in their struggle. It can also be used by local or national organizations of conscientious objectors to military service, or by human rights NGOs supporting conscientious objectors to help them to access international or regional human rights systems.”

See also: OHCHR Guide on Conscientious Objection to Military Service.

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September 2012

TRIPS-Related Patent Flexibilities and Food Security: Options For Developing Countries - Policy Guide

Food security is  as a pressing global challenge. Agricultural innovation is critical to addressing it. Equally important is ensuring that the benefits of such innovation are widely diffused, especially in developing countries.

How should countries design their intellectual property (IP) system to encourage and support agricultural innovation?  

The TRIPS Agreement provides WTO Members with flexibility to implement IP provisions in a way consistent with their agriculture and food security objectives. Yet these flexibilities have received little attention so far.

This Policy Guide seeks to fill this gap by providing an overview of TRIPS-related patent flexibilities that support agriculture and food security. 

This Policy Guide is designed for negotiators and policymakers in the areas of intellectual property, agriculture and food policy as well as breeders, farmers and other members of civil society. It also intended to be a useful tool for providers and recipients of technical assistance in the areas of intellectual property and agriculture. 

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March 2012

Collateral Convicts: Recommendations and Good Practice from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Day of General Discussion 2011

The first time a UN body considered the question children with parents in prison was in September 2011, in a Committee on the Rights of the Child day of general discussion on the topic. This paper details the issues, good practice and recommendations relating to children of prisoners that emerged from that day of general discussion.

See also the related Briefing Paper and Exhibition.

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February 2012

Children of Parents Sentenced to Death

One of the first QUNO publications to deal exclusively with the question of children whose parents are sentenced to death, paving the way for other documents in the same series. This paper raises awareness of some of the issues facing such children. It considers and elaborates on these issues in as much detail as the literature available at the time permitted, and highlights directions for future study.

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November 2011

International Standards on Conscientious Objection to Military Service

This document lays out the ways in which conscientious objection has been recognized and is protected under human rights treaties and mechanisms. In this way, it responds to those who claim that, as conscientious objection to military service is not explicitly recognized by international human rights treaties, it is not protected by them.

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September 2011

Collateral Convicts: If my parents go to prison, what happens to me? Exhibition on children of incarcerated parents

An exhibition by the NGO Group for the Committee on the Rights of the Child, focusing on “the often neglected issue of children of incarcerated parents. It includes drawings and quotes by children from across the world and highlights local initiatives that address the issue and seek to fulfill the rights of children whose parents are incarcerated.”

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February 2011

Food, Biological Diversity and Intellectual Property

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) influences global policy relating to agricultural research, as it is the only international organisation with responsibility for plant variety protection.

This report seeks to raise awareness about UPOV’s role and way of working. It aims to provide a point of reference around which key actors – both supportive and critical of current approaches to intellectual property (IP) protection of plants – can engage in discussions and exchange of ideas.

The report also discussion the history of Plant Variety Protection (PVP) and Plant Breeders' Rights (PBRs) as well as UPOV's relationship with the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the FAO's Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). It also refers to discussions on disclosure of origin of genetic resources, farmers' rights and the WIPO Development Agenda.

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February 2011

Briefing on the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules)

The Bangkok Rules supplement a set of international standards on the treatment of prisoners – The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (‘Tokyo Rules’). The Bangkok Rules address the needs and characteristics of women in the criminal justice system. QUNO and Penal Reform International participated in the development of the Bangkok Rules, and issued this Briefing to encourage their dissemination and implementation.

 

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August 2009

Orphans of Justice - In search of the best interests of the child when a parent is imprisoned: A Legal Analysis

This paper is part of a series of publications looking at the different aspects of the impact of parental imprisonment on children. Jean Tomkin, an Irish trainee solicitor had written her Masters’ dissertation on the issue of children of imprisoned parents, and re-worked and updated it for publication under QUNO’s series. The publication explores the legal issues concerning the rights of the child in these circumstances, and studies case law from several contexts. QUNO hopes the publication will “encourage and enable lawyers, judges, policy-makers and activists to understand why and how the best interests of the child can and should be taken into account when a parent with caring responsibilities for children comes within the criminal justice system.”

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August 2009

A Curate's Egg UN Human Rights Council: Year 3, 19 June 2008 to 18 June 2009

This is the third such publication developed by Rachel Brett on the workings of the UN Human Right’s Council. This report covers the period from 19 June 2008 to 18 June 2009, “the first ‘normal’ operational year of the Human Rights Council.” It explains the workings of the Council’s mechanisms and outlines its achievements and particular problems. It also looks in general at the substantive work of the Council, giving an overview of issues of particular importance for QUNO.

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July 2009

Children Need Dads Too: Children with Fathers in Prison

Since 2003, QUNO has worked on the issue of women in prison and children of imprisoned mothers, raising awareness about various issues arising from maternal incarceration. This study, by contrast, looks at the impact of paternal incarceration on children, exploring the similarities and differences between these situations and those where it is a child’s mother that is imprisoned.

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August 2008

Digging Foundations or Trenches? UN Human rights Council: Year 2,

This is the second publication developed by Rachel Brett on the establishment and workings of the UN Human Right’s Council. This report covers the Council’s second year (June 2007 – June 2008), in which it was to complete the ‘institution-building’ phase, and transition into a more substantive mode of work.

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