WIPO Development Meeting Starts Slowly Despite Push For Strong ReformPublished on 20 February 2006 @ 5:08 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen and William New
A meeting on a development agenda at the World Intellectual Property Organization got off to a slow start after a half-day debate over who would chair the meeting. This took place in contrast to efforts of key developing nations to keep negotiations on track to significant reforms of the United Nations body.
After a failed effort by the Group B industrialised countries to install a new chairman from Romania, Paraguayan Ambassador Rigoberto Gauto Vielman was selected to continue in his position as chairman, which he held for last year’s intersessional intergovernmental meeting on a development agenda. Kyrgyzstan was chosen as vice-chair for this week’s new Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA). Group B withdrew the suggestion after several hours of negotiation, according to officials.
Some sources argued that it is natural for Paraguay to continue to chair the process, while Group B members sought to signal that the PCDA – established by the General Assembly in October – is a new and separate process. Developed countries questioned privately did not criticize Vielman’s performance last year.
Romania is a candidate to join the European Union. Paraguay may be seen by some as more favourable to developing country issues although it is not part of the Friends of Development Group promoting the WIPO development agenda, some sources said.
Following resolution of the chairmanship, regional groups made official statements and then moved into discussion of new and old proposals.
FOD Document Stakes Out a Way Forward
Fourteen members of the Friends of Development group put forward a document for the meeting summarising the key points in the proposals on the development agenda so far and indicating where the process should go from here.
The proposal highlights the mandate given to the provisional committee and says that 2006 is the year for deepened discussions and concrete recommendations on the development agenda. In 2005, the first year of discussion on the proposal for such an agenda put forward by Brazil and Argentina in 2004, debate often focused on procedural issues.
The new Friends of Development document also emphasized that despite the number and variety of proposals submitted to WIPO on the development agenda, there are some common threads. It welcomed WIPO’s progress in including public interest groups in the discussions; the general agreement among members that WIPO should indeed be active in development; and that public hearings should be held before rule-setting activities are undertaken.
The document summarises the key issues to be addressed that are found in most or all of the proposals put forward prior to this week’s meeting. First, what should be the new approaches to WIPO norm-setting activities to ensure: they reflect the priorities of all WIPO members; that the impact and cost for developing countries is analysed; that they reflect the “profound factual economic and social differences” between member states; and that once adopted, they are evaluated.
Second, consider “member-driven mechanisms, procedures or rules” that could help WIPO carry out independent evaluation of intellectual property rules’ impact on development.
Third, strengthen the area of technical assistance including “improved availability and sharing of information on theses activities.”
Fourth, consider what measures are needed to help WIPO fulfil its mandate to facilitate technology transfer.
Fifth, to consider the issue of access to knowledge and ensuring that a “robust” public domain is being kept through norm-setting activities, including a proposed Treaty on Access to Knowledge.
Sixth, WIPO should provide developing countries with “policy space” to promote their development needs and requirements.
The document also highlights the need for all proposals to be given equal treatment and consideration and sets a deadline of 30 June 2006 for the provisional committee to arrive at concrete results. The PCDA is scheduled to meet for two week-long sessions in 2006 before making recommendations to the autumn 2006 General Assembly.