WIPO's Meeting on a Development Agenda (April 11 2005)

Submitted by PabloOrtellado on April 11, 2005.Copyright/Fair Use | English

Pablo Ortellado

After the proposal at the last general assembly for the installment of a development agenda for the WIPO made by Brazil and Argentina and backed by a group of 14 countries known as the friends of development, an inter-sessional intergovernmental meeting on a development agenda was set and has just started in Geneva today (April 11th).

The group of the friends of development supporting the positions of Brazil and Argentina is made of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Kenya, Peru, Siera Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Venezuela. The original proposal made by Brazil and Argentina can be found here.

For the inter-sessional intergovernmental meeting, the group of the friends of development sent a proposal further elaborating and complementing the original proposal made in 2004. This proposal can be found here.

Apart the proposal made by the group of the friends of development, also the United States, the United Kingdom and Mexico submitted a proposal. They can all be found here.

The morning session started with the acceptance of NGO ad hoc accreditation allowing that 17 NGOs who do not have the status of permanent members of the general assembly attended the meeting. This has been, for the past weeks, a strong demand from civil society groups who want more transparency in decisions within the WIPO and more participation from the civil society. You can read here the original petition from civil society demanding full accreditation to NGOs.

During the morning, the four proposals were presented by the country-members who elaborated them. Brazil and Argentina spoke for the group of the friends of development and made a summary of their position, emphasizing that they want development issues not to be dealt within a committee but to be incorporated in the overall structure of the organization, making development issues a permanent and structural concern for the WIPO. Brazil's and Argentine's delegates explained that their proposal is made of conceptual considerations followed by specific proposals that would guarantee the incorporation of development issues within WIPO's structure. Their document included four general proposals: 1) Reviewing the mandate and governance of the WIPO (ensuring that WIPO meets its original United Nations mandate, strengthening WIPO as a member-state based organization not unbalancedly affected by the interests of right holders, creating an independent office for the evaluation of the impact of WIPO on development and facilitating participation of public interest groups and reviewing the role of industry interests acting by means of the Policy Advisory Commission and the Industry Advisory Commission); 2) Promoting pro-development norm setting in the WIPO; 3 and 4) Ensuring that WIPO's provision of technical assistance and transfer of technology incorporate development concerns (among other things by strengthening and improving continuous evaluation of technical assistance and by creating intellectual property related policies in industrialized countries and multilateral bodies to foster development). Brazil also emphatically called that the friends of development's proposal be assessed in full and not be considered in dismembered parts.

The United States presented its proposal (you can find it here), by stressing that WIPO already deals with development within its scope and that specific development issues should be dealt with other bodies directly concerned with it, such as the Unctad. As a specific proposal, the United States suggested an Internet-based partnership program consisting of a partnership database and a partnership office connecting donors and recipients of intellectual property assistance.

Next, Mexico presented its proposal, generally considered obscure (you can read it here). The very short presentation was not clarifying and Mexico only expressed its concern that the intellectual property system be known to the public.

The last presentation of proposals was that of the United Kingdom. UK delegation explained that its document consisted more of observations rather than proposals. UK observed that WIPO's work in harmonization of standards was not contrary to development and questioned whether WIPO needed more bodies and to review its mandate. The UK also mentioned an earlier study made by its government on the relation between intellectual property and development pointing out that development is a much broader issue and that it can not be properly dealt with focusing exclusively on intellectual property. The UK proposal can be found here.

Discussion throughout the afternoon alternated the positions of delegates defending a revision of the mandate of the WIPO as to incorporate in its structure development issues according to the lines of the friends of development's proposal (that was the position of Bolivia and South Africa, for example) and positions asking for a more pragmatical stance that would maintain WIPO's present structure while strengthening technical assistance to developing countries (such was the position of Switzerland and Luxembourg). Several development countries took the floor to state that they did not think an increase in technical assistance was a sufficient measure to address development issues (Bolivia, for example, emphasized that).