WIPO Head Proposes New Top-Level Appointments; Elevates Chinese Official 01/06/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment IP-Watch is 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. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate. By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen and William New Following intensive consultations with member states in recent weeks, World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Kamil Idris has put forward names for the top positions at WIPO, including the proposal to replace one American with another and the creation of a new post to be filled by China. The posts to be filled are four deputy directors general (DDG) and two assistant directors general (ADG), plus the addition of a new ADG. The creation of a new position partially alleviates the pressure of having more candidates than posts (IPW, WIPO, 2 May 2006). If approved by the member governments in the WIPO Coordination Committee on 19-20 June, the changes will take effect on 1 December 2006 and run until 30 November 2009, the end of Idris’ tenure at WIPO. One developing country official told Intellectual Property Watch that there had been as many as our or five formal meetings with Idris and key ambassadors in addition to a number of informal consultations. “There were so many consultations,” the source said. At the DDG level, Francis Gurry (Australia) and Philippe Petit (France) will remain, the position held for the past three years by Geoffrey Yu (Singapore) will be handed over to Narendra Sabharwal (India) as agreed in July 2003, and Rita Hayes will be succeeded by Michael Keplinger (both United States), according to a document from WIPO (WO/CC/54/2). Keplinger is seen as closer to the Republican Bush administration, according to informed sources. Under Idris’ plan, the number of assistant director general (ADG) positions would increase from two to three. Ernesto Rubio (Uruguay) will continue as an ADG, while Geoffrey Onyeama of Nigeria would fill a second ADG position that has been vacant since April 2005, and Wang Binying, a current WIPO official from China, would have her position elevated to an ADG. The curriculum vitae of every proposed name is provided on the WIPO website in the annexes to the document under the Coordination Committee meeting page. While WIPO gives no explanation in the paper for the ADG vacancy, officials separately confirmed the position vacated was that held by Tanzanian Khamis Suedi, who resigned last year after being linked to financial concerns related to an earlier renovation of a WIPO office building. According to reports, a Swiss federal investigation of the United Nations determined that Ghanaian businessman Michael Wilson was paid $3-4 million by BPS, a consortium of three Geneva companies, related to their winning of a WIPO renovation contract (ultimately worth some $50 million). Wilson transferred nearly $300,000 to Suedi, according to sources, but WIPO officials insisted that this was not related to the renovation contract. Five WIPO officials including Suedi were called to testify and none were charged, they said. Since last year, WIPO members have increased their involvement in the organisation’s financial and personnel decision-making. WIPO is under a hiring freeze and is undergoing a desk-by-desk review of jobs. The Tanzanian mission said Suedi’s post had been a personal employment and was not willing to comment. Suedi’s title had been ADG and special counsel to Idris. It is not clear if Onyeama would get the special counsel role as well. Onyeama is currently a senior director (D-2) of the WIPO Cooperation for Development Bureau for Africa and was educated in the United States and as an attorney in the United Kingdom. China Receives A Senior Post Meanwhile, Idris has reclassified a D-2 (senior director) post at WIPO to a new ADG position. Wang Binying’s current title is executive director, administrative support services and general assembly affairs. This means that China has settled for less than it originally requested, which was a DDG post. Sources said that in recent weeks China took a hard line position on obtaining a DDG spot. China represents a regional group unto itself at WIPO. The new ADG position will be on a “temporary basis” until the end of Idris’s present mandate (30 November 2009), after which it will return to a D-2 level position. The financial implications of the reclassification “will be negligible,” according to the paper. WIPO said that the post is reclassified because of its “functional importance” and the “high degree of responsibility.” Also, there is a need to carry out a “strategic project” over the next three years in the area of security and electronic data protection at WIPO, the paper states. Proposals Subject to Coordination Committee All of the proposals made by Idris were based on consultations with member states, the paper states. They now will be subject to the “approval and advice” of the Coordination Committee that will meet in an extraordinary session on 19-20 June, WIPO said. Countries that had a candidate for a DDG or ADG seat but did not get it were Cameroon, Croatia, Japan and Zambia. There appears to be a slight difference in the say of the Coordination Committee when it comes to DDGs and ADGs. While the WIPO Convention states in Article 9(7) that the director general shall appoint the DDGs “after approval by the Coordination Committee,” Regulation 4(8) of the WIPO Staff Regulations and Staff Rules says that the director general shall appoint ADGs “taking into account the advice of the Coordination Committee,” the WIPO paper states. Sources had indicated earlier that several member states opposed the establishment of a new DDG position, for which Idris would need to get the formal approval of the Coordination Committee. Positions and Duties As proposed by Idris, the candidates would have the following responsibilities if approved: Philippe Petit (DDG) – general affairs and administration sector Francis Gurry (DDG) – Patent Cooperation Treaty, arbitration and mediation centre and global intellectual property issues Narendra Sabharwal (DDG) – economic development sector Michael Keplinger (DDG) – copyright and related rights Ernesto Rubio (ADG) – sector of trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications Geoffrey Onyeama (ADG) – coordination office for external relations and industry relations Wang Binying (ADG) – office of administrative support services, security matters and general assembly affairs. The Coordination Committee regularly meets once a year with the possibility of extraordinary sessions. The 19-20 June meeting will be the committee’s 44th session but only its 18th extraordinary session. 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