Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2011

Publication Citation

18 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 167 (2011)


The HIV/AIDS pandemic has had a devastating and disproportionate impact in countries of the Global South. The experience of an individual infected with HIV in Africa is very different than that of an individual infected with HIV in America. Life expectancy varies sharply. The ability or inability to access medicines essential for treatment accounts for much of the variance. This article examines how the rhetoric of human rights used in the context of South Africa's AIDS crisis resonated across the Global South, resulted in a powerful social movement for access to medicines, and contributed to important changes in international intellectual property law principles. This article first introduces the competing commitments governments of the Global South face with a discussion of the current status of the global AIDS epidemic and an explanation of the structure and content of the international intellectual property and human rights legal systems. This article then provides a discussion of how domestic civil society activists organized to oppose international intellectual property interests through law and politics using the language of international human rights. Next, it presents an interpretation of how events in South Africa led to the Doha Declaration and strengthened the emerging alliance between countries of the Global South. Finally, it identifies lessons to be learned from the experience of these actors.

Human Rights and Legal Systems Across the Global South, Symposium, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana. 9-10 April 2010.