On 22 February 2016, IFLA co-signed the Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet in support of sustainable, transparent, accountable and democratic international trading systems.

The Declaration calls for an end to secretive and unaccountable trade negotiations, like the ones that led to Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). While the Trans-Pacific Partnership is currently awaiting ratification of 12 countries, the completed text was under development for seven years before it was publicly released. As a result, TPP includes restrictive copyright enforcement regulations that will hurt free expression, innovation, and privacy on the Internet and elsewhere.

The Declaration’s signatories cannot accept the negotiation of trade agreements that fail to address the needs of broader communities and limit the incorporation of freedom of expression into trade policies. Similar international agreements to the TPP are playing important roles in shaping complex aspects of the digital environment, while not ensuring the protection of the rights of those affected. IFLA believes that non-transparent trade negotiations taking place outside of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) place too much emphasis on copyright protection and enforcement, neglecting essential limitations and exceptions to copyright.

Read the statement on our publication page.

Reform of international trading systems

For this reason, IFLA together with other stakeholders representing internet users, consumers, innovative businesses, cultural institutions and scholars from across the continent are calling for the reformation of global trade agreements to:

  • Ensure trade agreements are transparent and accountable, including all vital stakeholders in the negotiation process
  • Take affirmative measures to engage organization and experts representing internet users and consumers
  • Ensure agreements support the United Nations  2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Apply freedom of information principles 
  • Balance representation on trade advisory bodies or processes
  • Promote and fulfil articles 19 – 25 of the international Covenant on Civil and Political rights to ensure meaningful participation in the negotiation process

For more information on copyright issues addressing international trade systems, have a look at IFLA’s Library statement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations.