Today Creative Commons and 47 civil society organizations and academics released a letter (PDF) calling on negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to publish the draft text of the agreement. Up until now the text of the TPP has been developed mostly in secret by the 12 negotiating countries. Wikileaks published a draft text of the chapter on intellectual property in October, revealing several provisions that would threaten access to and re-use of creative works, including an arrangement to allow countries to extend copyright terms by another 20 years. CC and other groups wrote a letter calling for that proposal to be rescinded.
Today’s call for increased accountability into the process and substance of the TPP agreement follows on the heels of the European Commission’s announcement for transparency into the negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a trade agreement being negotiated between the United States and the European Union.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) organized the letter from civil society organizations and experts. They said, “As TPP seems to arrive at its final stage, this is a prime moment for trade ministers to stop the secrecy and re-commit themselves to democratic principles of transparency and public participation in rule making.”
We couldn’t agree more.
The text of the letter (PDF) is below.
Dear TPP Ministers and Heads of Delegation,
Ever since talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) began over five years ago, there have been broad public calls on leaders to make negotiations more transparent and open to the public. In statements, in letters, and in face-to-face meetings with trade representatives, we have urged the adoption of concrete practices that would better enable the kind of open debate and oversight that would help demystify these ongoing negotiations by making better, more accurate information available to the public.
The European Commission has recently taken leadership on this issue in the parallel context of negotiations over a Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), recommending on 25 November 2014 that the EU’s TTIP text proposals henceforth be released to the public, and that other information related to TTIP be shared more broadly with all Members of the European Parliament, beyond the currently limited membership of the International Trade Committee.
The end of TPP negotiations now seems to be coming into focus. They have come down to high-level political decisions by negotiating countries, and the text is largely completed except for some resolutions on remaining landing zones. At this point, we know that there is a draft of the TPP that is mostly agreed upon by those negotiating the deal.
Today, we strongly urge you to release the unbracketed text and to release the negotiating positions for text that is bracketed, now and going forwards as any future proposals are made. The public has a legitimate interest in knowing what has already been decided on its behalf, and what is now at stake with our various countries’ positions on these controversial regulatory issues.
We call on you to consider the recent announcement from the European Commission as a welcome precedent to follow, thereby re-affirming your commitment to fundamental principles of transparency and public participation in rule making. The negotiations in Washington DC this week would provide the perfect opportunity for such a ground-breaking accord to be announced.
Australian Digital Alliance
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)
Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)
Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC)
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA)
Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA)
Council of Canadians
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Réseau juridique canadien VIH/sida)
ONG Derechos Digitales
Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios de Chile (ODECU)
Movements of the Internet Active Users (MIAU)
Creative Commons Japan
Its Our Future NZ
Malaysian AIDS Council
Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)
Mexico, Chile, Peru:
International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC-LATCA) (Regional Office for
Latin American and Carribean Networks)
Alianza LAC – Global por el Acceso a Medicamentos
Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users (ASPEC)
Acción Internacional para la Salud (AIS)
Action on Smoking and Health
American Library Association
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight For the Future
Food & Water Watch
Government Accountability Project
Just Foreign Policy
Knowledge Ecology International
National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices
Association of Research Libraries
Gabriel J. Michael, Yale Law School
Pam Samuelson, Berkeley Law School
Susan Sell, George Washington University
Sean Flynn, American University
David Levine, Princeton University