From a broad sustainable development viewpoint, intellectual property (IP) might relate to a number of aspects of a country's social and economic development. Its impact can be felt in industrial, health, education, nutrition, biodiversity and cultural policies. In exploring the issues relating to sustainable development and the important changes that have taken place in the IP landscape, we will focus on issues that are drawing particular attention in major international for and to developments that are taking place in bilateral trade negotiations.This paper will thus focus on understanding the significance of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), examine its main features and assess the ways in which it has altered the landscape of IP relations. In doing so the paper explores the key IP issues related to sustainable development, with emphasis on trends and outstanding questions in the international discourse. In this respect, the issues related to access to knowledge, access to health and the relationship between the international IP architecture and the protection of biodiversity and traditional knowledge (TK) has occupied much of the attention of policymakers. This paper accordingly centres its inquiry on these issues. We begin with a short introduction on the purpose and the main disciplines of intellectual property rights (IPRs).