The existing human rights do not categorically refer to the intellectual property rights; however, there are certain provisions within the human right treaties which can be considered so. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was adopted in 1948 has certain provisions which are important points to be considered. The Article 27.2 states that “ Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author” (United Nations, 2007). Similarly, the right to property also stressed in the Article 17 of UDHR which states that everyone has the right to own property and no one shall be deprived of his property.
In addition to that, the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICSECR) established in 1966 is also one of the vital tools through which we can assess the relationship between Intellectual Property & Economic Rights. International rights although increase the scope of the relationship between these two rights but there are some regional human rights which contain clauses pertaining property rights.
The Article 21.1 of American Convention on Human Rights of 1969 states that everyone is entitled to the right to use and enjoyment of his property but it further enforces that “ The law may subordinate such use and enjoyment to the interest of society” (Sinjela, 2007). Similarly, the African Charter on Human Rights which was adopted in 1981 also enforces that “ The right to the property shall be guaranteed while it may only be encroached upon the interest of public need or in the general interest of community” (Sinjela, 2007).
Scholars in the field have reached to two distinct approaches to the relationship between intellectual rights and human rights. The first approach considers the relationship between those rights to be incompatible. The scholars who back this approach believe that intellectual property laws undermine the basic human rights especially that of social, economic and cultural rights.
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