WIPO Development Agenda Meeting Opens With New, Modified Proposals 21/06/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this: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)The 20-22 June World Intellectual Property Organisation meeting to discuss the possible establishment of an agenda for development opened with, among other things, a proposal on how to discuss the proposals. Negotiators at the start of the second Inter-sessional Intergovernmental Meeting (IIM) began Monday by hearing about several new or modified proposals, including one from Brazil to categorise all of the proposals put forward thus far in the meeting. After a full day of discussion, meeting chair Rigoberto Gauto Vielman, Ambassador of Paraguay, decided that day two would begin with consultations on how to structure the meeting, according to participants. The IIM was designated by the fall 2004 WIPO General Assembly to consider a proposal initiated by Brazil and Argentina to better incorporate developing country concerns across the Geneva-based UN body. The proposal was co-sponsored by 12 other “Friends of Development.” The first IIM was held in April, and the third IIM is scheduled for 20-22 July. The results will go back to the General Assembly next fall. There were several proposals tabled in the first IIM, including an expanded one from the Friends of Development, one from the United Kingdom, one from Mexico, and one from the United States. But the first meeting focused significantly on procedure rather than the substance of the proposals. In the interim, governments were asked to make their proposals “operational and actionable” and new proposals were invited. Several governments responded to the call. Many developing countries are eager to see more progress on substance rather than structure in the second meeting, with an eye toward the recommendation of a development agenda work plan for the General Assembly. Brazil circulated a proposed work programme for a debate on members’ proposals that would break them out in four categories: norm-setting in WIPO; a review of WIPO’s mandate and governance; technical assistance and capacity-building; and technology development, access to knowledge, technology transfer and related competition policies. The United States indicated it does not favour the Brazilian idea as it might “prejudge” an outcome, sources said. India called for “serious consideration” of the Brazilian proposal, and added the suggestion for a fifth category for debate on the appropriate committees. He suggested that the issue of development as it relates to different topics, for example patents or copyrights, should be taken up in the committees that deal with patents or copyrights, not one committee for all development issues. Separately, Pakistan proposed during the meeting that all proposals be put together as one draft text to be worked from, grouped so that technical assistance was only one aspect so that it would not dominate the discussion. The Group B industrialised countries repeated their proposal from the first meeting for a “stock-taking” of WIPO’s activities pertaining to developing country needs. A Canadian proposal made at the last meeting of the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development related to Intellectual Property (PCIPD) that development issues be placed under that committee and was raised in the IIM. The US proposal to create a website and a partnership program for developed and developing countries remained on the table as well. Switzerland agreed with the Bahrain and Mexico proposals, seeking a closer examination of the benefits of intellectual property for development. Mexico previously proposed a look at the establishment of national intellectual property systems. Switzerland also signaled support for the proposals of Group B and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom put its earlier proposal into operational terms, calling for the PCIPD to be “reinvigorated” to take advantage of the fact that its mandate is broader than strictly technical assistance. They also called for the committee to meet more often than its current cycle of once every two years. The UK proposal calls for a committee work program that includes oversight of research on intellectual property and development, promotion of technology transfer, better management of technical cooperation, and “investigating the merits of further evaluation, including possible external evaluation, of WIPO’s [technical cooperation and capacity building] activities.” In its floor statement on the first day, the UK said its proposal recognises that “given the wide-ranging nature of this issue we are unlikely to reach consensus in the next two meetings even with the best intentions of all parties.” It also argues that integrating development objectives into WIPO’s work is not a one-step process. In addition, it sees cost and management effectiveness in utilising an existing permanent committee rather than creating a new one, it said. The substance of the committee’s work plan could be flexible. While the UK government has earned a positive reputation with developing countries on intellectual property issues, a number of developing countries have resisted any efforts to place the development agenda wholly inside the technical cooperation committee out of concern that it will be sidelined there and limited to more technical assistance. Currently the issue is at the level of the General Assembly through the IIM. Discrepancy in the Arab States? Another issue that arose on the first day was that a group of Arab states came out with a proposal differing from that of the Friends of Development. But questions arose about the position of these governments, as it was pointed out by Egypt and others that during the 12-16 June Second South Summit, the leaders of those Arab countries appeared to take a position in line with the Friends of Development. “One part of the [Bahrain proposal] document reaffirms that WIPO has always taken into account and integrated the development dimension,” Egypt’s representative said in the plenary. “In our view, it appears that the message coming out of the South Summit, in which his majesty the King of Bahrain participated, contradicts with this statement and reflects otherwise.” The Group of 77 developing countries, including the Arab states, at the South Summit called on “WIPO, as a UN agency, to include in all its future plans and activities including legal advice a development dimension that includes promoting development and access to knowledge for all, pro-development norm-setting, establishing development friendly principles and guidelines for the provisions of technical assistance and the transfer and dissemination of technology.” This language reflects the Friends of Development proposal for a WIPO development agenda and creates a possible discrepancy with the IIM position. At the IIM, Bahrain tabled a proposal that generally lined up with the developed countries’ views in the meeting, and differed sharply from the Friends of Development. It stressed the “importance of intellectual property,” the economic benefits of intellectual property and copyright protection, and the positive relationship between intellectual property and social and economic development. These are views many delegations likened to the traditional stance of developed countries, whose companies hold much of the world’s intellectual property. Arab state representatives could not be reached for comment for this story. Bahrain’s proposal, which praised WIPO’s work with developing countries, mainly proposed strengthening of WIPO’s technical assistance, including with setting up of national strategies on intellectual property and “promoting an intellectual property culture.” Bahrain, supported by Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen also called for WIPO to devise a way to help developing country inventors to commercialize their work, including through a proposal from the first meeting by the United States to create a partnership program in WIPO. Bahrain also called for the WIPO secretariat to provide statistical data on assistance provided to developing countries, a WIPO voluntary contribution fund, and the encouragement of developed country research and scientific institutions to increase cooperation with developing countries. A further suggestion was to keep WIPO’s mandate separate from obligations member states have from other international bodies and treaties. Share this: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 "WIPO Development Agenda Meeting Opens With New, Modified Proposals" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.