Towards Global Justice - Providing Life-Saving Medicines to the Poor: Thomas Pogge and Aiden Hollis

© World Bank / A. Hoel
Malaria medication, Nigeria

UNESCO will host a public seminar with Professors Thomas Pogge and Aidan Hollis, in which these internationally-renowned academics will explain proposals for ensuring better access to life-saving medicines for the poor. This has relevance to the ongoing reflection of the International Bioethics Committee on Article 15 (the principle of Sharing of Benefits) of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights.

The ideas and proposals of Thomas Pogge and Aidan Hollis have stimulated much recent debate, both among specialists and the public, about the need to ensure responsible international institutions – ones that create inclusion over time, and can improve the lives of the poorest in the short term.

Professors Pogge and Hollis aim to reduce deaths attributable to lack of access to life-saving medicines. High prices generated by today’s intellectual property rights (IPR) system are partly responsible for these deaths, because patients – especially in developing countries and emerging markets – are unable to access the medicines they need. High drug prices also harm patients in the developed world. They therefore suggest changes to the IPR system to improve access to life-saving medicines.

This short seminar will be in two parts. First, Prof. Thomas Pogge will give an overview of the global justice implications of the current IPR system. Second, Prof. Aidan Hollis will introduce world-wide efforts to develop performance-based reward systems, which could mitigate some of the considerable disadvantages of the current system for the global poor.

This discussion, rooted in a vision of global justice, is expected to be pertinent to the ongoing reflection of the International Bioethics Committee on Article 15 (the principle of Sharing of Benefits) of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights. This principle will be examined in the context of production of knowledge in the life sciences, and its links to Article 27 (the right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 15 (the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Professor Thomas Pogge of the University of Central Lancashire (United Kingdom) has published widely in moral and political philosophy, including various books on Rawls and global justice. He is the Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. He is also the President of Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP), an international professional association focused on helping poverty researchers and teachers enhance their positive impact on severe poverty.

Professor Aiden Hollis, a Professor of Economics at the University of Calgary (Canada), is researching pharmaceutical markets — including issues relating to innovation, competition, trade, and access. He has also published more broadly in economics within the field of industrial organization.

The short seminar will be held as part of a meeting of the REWARD project team. The REWARD project is a European Research Council-funded project that aims to use ethics research as the steering force to determine which performance-based reward tools for pharmaceutical innovation are the most promising, through a collaboration of ethicists, lawyers, economists and statisticians, with experts in medicine, science and technology policy and gender studies. REWARD is carried out in cooperation with the UNESCO bioethics team.


Type of Event Category 7-Seminar and Workshop
Start 06.06.2014 13:00 local time
End 06.06.2014 14:00 local time
Date to be fixed 0
Focal point Feinholz, Dafna
Organizer UNESCO
Contact Dafna Feinholz,, +33 (0)1 45 68 38 57
Country France
City Paris
Venue UNESCO Headquarters
Street 125 Avenue de Suffren
Room Room XI
Permanent Delegation Contact
Major Programme
Language of Event English, French
Estimated number of participants 100
Official Website
Link 1 Providing Life-Saving Medicines to the Poor - Interview with Thomas Pogge and Aidan Hollis
Link 2 UNESCO's Programme on Bioethics and Ethics of Science and Technology
Link 3 International Bioethics Committee (IBC)
Link 4 The REWARD project