In an important new collective statement, top leadership from multiple major faith denominations have strongly reaffirmed their traditions’ recognition of the human right to health, and insisted that trade agreements--including a renegotiated NAFTA--should not include terms that extend medicine monopolies.
The statement, available to read here is signed by the leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Here are some key excerpts:
“Recognizing the inherent dignity of the human person, our faith traditions call us to care for the sick and respond to the needs of the poor in our societies. Trade agreements can have enormous impacts on the ability of the sick and the poor to access the medicines they need for healing and even survival. Therefore, we agree with the provisions of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), currently in effect in all NAFTA countries . . .
Crucially, as was underscored by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, it also recognizes each nation’s right to take necessary steps to ensure that medicines are available to all of their residents . . .
We call on you to ensure that no terms of a renegotiated NAFTA go beyond the TRIPS agreement mandates, and avoid enhanced and extended monopolies on life-essential medicines. Instead, we ask that a renegotiated NAFTA reaffirm the TRIPS public health protections that enable the United States and other countries to promote the human right to health and access to medicines for all.”
Many thanks to these faith leaders for this powerful message, and to Jubilee USA Network and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for coordinating the collective statement.