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Opening Pandora's Box: Secret Treaty Threatens Human Rights
The Conversation (2012)
  • Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University College of Law
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) 2011 – Twitter hashtag #ACTA – is a controversial trade agreement designed to provide for stronger enforcement of intellectual property rights.
There’s been much concern that the treaty was secretly negotiated by a limited number of nation states – including the United States, Japan, the members of the European Union, Switzerland, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. There has been little in the way of democratic input from developing countries, civil society groups or affected communities. Professor Peter Yu has observed that ACTA is a “bad country club agreement”.
The preamble to the treaty reads like pulp fiction – ACTA raises moral panics about piracy, counterfeiting, organised crime, and border security. The agreement contains provisions on civil remedies and criminal offences; copyright law and trade mark law; the regulation of the digital environment; and border measures.
Professor Susan Sell has called ACTA a “TRIPS Double-Plus” Agreement, because its obligations are above and beyond the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement 1994, and TRIPS-Plus Agreements, such as the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement 2004.
The agreement fails to balance the protection of intellectual property owners with the wider public interest in access to medicines, human development, and transfer of technology.
  • Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement,
  • Piracy,
  • Counterfeiting,
  • Trade,
  • Copyright,
  • Trade Marks,
  • Patent,
  • Plain Packaging,
  • Access to Essential Medicines
Publication Date
April 4, 2012
Citation Information
Matthew Rimmer. "Opening Pandora's Box: Secret Treaty Threatens Human Rights" The Conversation (2012)
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