Nations Clash On Future Of WIPO Development Agenda 11/04/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe here. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate. Developed and developing countries faced off Monday over whether and how the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organisation’s mission should be transformed to better address the needs of developing countries. The basis for the three-day discussion ending Wednesday at the Geneva-based WIPO is a developing country proposal to change WIPO into a more typical U.N. organisation by raising the profile of development concerns throughout its mission. The United States, the United Kingdom and others say there is no need for a new body within WIPO, but acknowledge that improvements could be made to the existing system such as through better technical assistance to developing countries. The United States argued for the creation of a partnership database to improve developing country capacity to benefit from intellectual property, and said the issue should be placed into the existing Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual Property (PCIPD). “We don’t believe the U.N. needs another development agency,” said the lead U.S. delegate. “We do not support setting up new bodies.” He cited the U.N. Development Programme and the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development as the key UN agencies with specific development mandates. The developing country proposal specifically argues against development issues being limited to technical assistance and placed solely under the PCIPD. The United States also argued that WIPO should focus on intellectual property protection, a point countered by several countries such as Egypt that want a broader focus. The U.S. delegate issued a potential threat to WIPO if it adopts a stronger development focus. “We support WIPO. We would not want to change WIPO in a direction that would diminish that support,” he said. The meeting Monday focused on procedural issues and proposals put forward in recent weeks by several governments. At a February consultation on patent harmonisation with mostly like-minded WIPO members held by Director-General Kamil Idris, participants were encouraged to submit proposals for this week’s meeting, and three of them did: Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. The U.K. and Mexican proposals generally argue for the status quo with improvements. For this week’s meeting, the so-called Friends of Development (fourteen developing country co-sponsors of the original development agenda proposal last fall), submitted an elaboration of their previous proposal. Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, the lead Brazilian delegate, characterized the proposal as an opportunity for a “substantive discussion” on intellectual property and development. He urged that the discussion focus widely and not be limited to technical assistance, but said the proposal was written in “modular fashion” so that decisions could be taken on a step-by-step basis. He and others urged that development issues be considered in the setting of norms and standards for intellectual property. “Obviously the time has come to rectify the current situation,” the delegate from Argentina said. Singapore, speaking on behalf of the Asian countries, welcomed the Friends of Development proposal and said that intellectual property protection is “not one size fits all.” The Asian Group statement called for balance, respect for national policies, as well as to take into account the impact of policies on users of intellectual property. But a statement also read by Singapore on behalf of the smaller Association of Southeast Asian Nations did not specifically back the Friends of Development proposal. It did, however, “welcome incorporating the development dimension into all aspects of WIPO.” The so-called Group B of developed countries, represented by Italy, said development issues are not new for WIPO, but called for an “urgent stocktaking” of WIPO’s activities to see if developing country needs are being met and whether there could be better coordination with other agencies. The regional group for Latin America and the Caribbean, represented by Jamaica, agreed that discussions should not be limited to technical assistance. The African countries, represented by Morocco, reiterated their support from last fall for the Development Agenda proposal. During the day, India and Pakistan separately suggested that a negotiating text be prepared. This meeting, an “inter-sessional intergovernmental meeting,” was agreed to by the WIPO General Assembly in October 2004. Other similar meetings may follow in the time before a July deadline to issue a report for consideration by next September’s General Assembly, diplomatic sources said. The first day began with a debate over whether the meeting chair, which is Paraguay, had the right to determine the future of the development issue based on the meeting. Argentina and Brazil, who launched the original Development Agenda proposal, argued that the chair was limited to a non-binding summary of the meeting. They were joined by a number of developing countries who said the normal practice for WIPO meetings is for governments to discuss and adopt a draft report of the meeting prepared by the secretariat. Brazil reiterated the proposal to add an agenda item to this effect unless there was specific opposition from other governments. When no public argument was offered, the chair affirmed that the agenda would be amended as proposed. A government official said that the topic was, however, reconsidered in a closed meeting later in the day. Another key difference that arose during the day is whether development issues should be moved to the PCIPD, which meets on Thursday and Friday of this week. The United States and Group B favour the move while some developing countries have vowed to resist it out of concern that development cut across all aspects of WIPO activities and not be relegated to one committee. The U.S. view was that if the PCIPD is not sufficient, then it should be improved. Another procedural matter at the meeting was the announcement at the outset that seventeen “ad hoc” (not formally recognized by WIPO) non-governmental organisations would be allowed to attend the meeting after all. But the United States said the groups and their representatives should be carefully scrutinized before being allowed to attend any future meetings. Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Nations Clash On Future Of WIPO Development Agenda" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.