A2K Symposium (Post by Ahmed Abdel Latif): The future of A2K: the risks of dilution and cooptation

By Ahmed Abdel Latif

The publication of Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property is timely to reflect on the future prospects of the A2K movement. In this regard, the first risk it faces, in my view, is ‘dilution’. A dilution which results mainly from the disparate agendas being pursued in an uncoordinated manner by the diverse communities and groups which make up the A2K movement, but also as a result of other factors such as reduced funding, and competing priorities. How can the diversity of the A2K movement, which is a great source of richness and cross-fertilization of ideas and practices, be maintained in the long term while advancing a cohesive agenda? With the ‘dilution’ comes also the risk of loosing ‘policy focus’ where A2K drifts to be confined to an academic abstract discussion.

The second risk is the one of ‘cooptation’. As the A2K movement becomes successful in advancing some of its proposals and models in international fora, such as WIPO, for instance, we witness a tendency in these fora to reproduce ‘A2K friendly’ language and engage in A2K related studies and projects. Does this mean that A2K has achieved its goals and that the change it called for has occurred? Is this the questioning of rules and approaches governing the ownership and dissemination of knowledge that the A2K desired?

Finally, I still find sometimes floating around an assumption that A2K has the same meaning in the North and in the global South, while it isn’t necessarily the case and we shouldn’t loose sight of this dimension. The recent events, in my home, country, during which internet access was ‘cut off’ for several days maybe a good illustration of this.

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