For use of information media - Not an official record

09 April 2003

The cross-border sharing of scientific and technological knowledge is currently restricted - by regulations to protect national competitiveness; by intellectual property protection being extended not just to products, but to research tools as well; and by the comparatively limited resources available to scientists in the developing world. Could a new international treaty help end these restrictions and encourage knowledge-sharing?

An UNCTAD policy dialogue taking place on Friday morning, 11 April, will discuss a proposal for just such a treaty. According to the keynote speaker, Prof. John Barton, such a treaty could:

  • provide for reciprocity in the treatment of national scientists and firms, including their access to support structures and to publicly funded research
  • prohibit favouritism towards national firms
  • end many visa restrictions on foreign students and scholars
  • support research on agriculture, HIV, TB and malaria
  • be globally oriented, but give preferential benefits to developing countries
  • at the same time respond to national security concerns, particularly in the biotech field

The proposal is modelled on earlier success stories in dismantling protectionist barriers, such as those to free trade, on the basis of reciprocity.

Keynote speaker: John Barton, Professor of Law at Stanford University and Chair of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (UK).

Discussants: UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero; Keith Maskus, Professor and Chair of Economics at the University of Colorado; Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, Executive Director of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD); and Pedro Roffe, Director of the UNCTAD/ICTSD Project on Intellectual Property Rights and Development.

Fri. 11 April - 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Room XXV, Palais des Nations, Geneva

For more information, please visit: The Science and Technology for Development Network website or the new internet portal on Intellectual Property Rights,

Or contact:
Assad Omer, T: +41 22 907 5696, E:;
Mongi Hamdi, T: +41 22 907 5069, E:,
UNCTAD Press Office, T: +41 22 907 5828, E:


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