HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy


I argue that there is a human right to vital pharmaceuticals, not in the sense that anybody has a claim right to the provision of pharmaceuticals that are not yet available, but in the sense that access to pharmaceuticals must not be limited by means of overblown private intellectual property right. Contrary to what is customary, my argument in support of such a human right draws on foundational considerations about intellectual property. My analysis is to some extent driven by exploring parallels between a Global Common and an Intellectual Common, to both of which all of humanity would have symmetrical ownership rights.


Risse, Mathias. "Is There a Human Right to Essential Pharmaceuticals? The Global Common, the Intellectual Common, and the Possibility of Private Intellectual Property." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper series RWP08-074, December 2008.