WIPO Committee Puts Brakes On New Construction As Secretariat Lashes Out14/01/2006 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.A key committee of member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organisation this week halted progress on a disputed new construction project at the UN body that has been the subject of a criminal investigation.The WIPO Program and Budget Committee (PBC), which met 11-13 January, also increased member states’ ability to scrutinise WIPO’s budget and placed new controls on the organisation’s ability to move funds between accounts.The General Assembly (the annual meeting of the member governments) in October agreed WIPO could proceed with the new construction, which has been delayed since 2002. At the PBC meeting, WIPO proposed a charter for the new construction, a five-story building extending off the existing headquarters. The budget would be 125.4 million Swiss francs, and construction would take 26 months.The PBC accepted a proposal by the B Group (industrialised nations) that the WIPO Audit Committee first examine the construction proposal, according to sources. The concern was that the PBC members lacked expertise in construction issues, so the audit committee would review it first. The WIPO secretariat had foreseen a selection board meeting on Monday which was cancelled.At the PBC, a WIPO deputy director sought to convince members that the criminal investigation under way since February 2004 has no link to WIPO itself, and that their concern over the issue should be dropped. The investigation has led to the summoning by a judge of four WIPO staff members and a former staff member as witnesses, none of whom has been indicted.“The investigation itself was directed against people who were neither WIPO staff members, nor in any way linked to WIPO,” the official said in a written statement. “There was no formal or institutional link between the persons indicted and WIPO. One of them knew certain WIPO staff members, including one of those who were summoned by the judge, of whom it was said that he had received a sum of money.”The official defended the director general’s efforts to get to the bottom of the allegations and rumours that have circulated, and said no wrongdoing has been found.The official also lashed out at press coverage of the numerous allegations that have surfaced from within and outside the organisation, targeting one unnamed newspaper in particular and making a general reference to “slander.” “Where a mistake occurs, it can be discovered and proven,” he said. “Where no mistake occurs, there is nothing to be discovered or proven. Conversely, slander always leaves traces.”Given the “systematic” timing of newspaper articles to coincide with WIPO meetings, “one cannot avoid to raise the question whether there was a deliberate will to harass the organisation and disrupt its work,” the official said.New Audit Committee Elected; Members Involvement in Budget-Drafting IncreasedThe PBC devoted significant time to the election of a new Audit Committee. The PBC elects seven members, who then select another two for a total of nine. According to sources, the seven elected officials include two each from the African Group and the B Group, and one each from the Asian Group, China and Russia. There was no candidate from the Americas. On the committee, officials do not represent their countries, but rather are expected to be independent.Also at the meeting, the PBC discussed stepping up members’ involvement in WIPO budget-making and proposed shortening the budget cycle from two years to one. Currently, the PBC sees the draft budget only once every two years. The last General Assembly tasked the PBC with recommending a new programme and budget process. Discussions were held on whether the committee should meet on the budget one or two times per year (no government pushed for the status quo of once every two years).They also talked about what should be discussed in the budget meetings, suggesting that on the first meeting after each budget period, they would review the previous budget. In addition, they would be given a budget outline by the secretariat, highlighting broadly what is to come (such as a proposed percent increase or reduction).The secretariat will be asked to draw up a paper on the current budget process used, as well as best practices for budget processes within the United Nations. It also will draft a paper reflecting the outcome of this week’s discussion, and will arrange 2 informal consultations with members on the issue.One more meeting of the PBC will be held this year — likely in the summer — to decide on the group’s recommendation to the autumn General Assembly, sources said.Programme Fund Transfers Reined InFinally, the committee approved a proposal to allow transfers from one programme to another in a biennium of up to five percent of the receiving programme or one percent of the total budget. But the committee rejected a WIPO proposal that this new system (the rules currently state that the director general may transfer up to five percent from one heading of the budget to another) would have to wait for the conclusion of a “desk-to-desk” analysis of personnel. The PBC recommended the new system start in 2008 no matter what.PBC Chairman Dirk Kranen said afterward that he was pleased with overall meeting outcome. “All open issues have been resolved,” he said, adding that the issues have been made more detailed. Kranen, who left the German mission in late 2005 to take a post with the German president in Berlin, was elected as chair of the PBC.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 Google+ (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 Committee Puts Brakes On New Construction As Secretariat Lashes Out" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.