Text-Based Negotiations On A WIPO Development Agenda Pick Up Pace 22/02/2007 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for 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)By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are moving quickly on negotiating draft texts aimed at improving the organisation’s development focus, as a week-long meeting nears its end. Four days into the 19-23 February special session of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA), all five regional member state groups helping the chair to produce draft texts for each of the six subject matters that are being discussed, had their drafts ready. In some cases, it was the first text; others had already reached as much as the seventh revision. An issue under rather heated debate is the inclusion of language on the importance of protecting knowledge in the public domain. The subject matter groupings of proposals are referred to as “clusters,” dividing up a total of 111 proposals that member states have submitted to WIPO over the past two years regarding a Development Agenda. For this week’s meeting, 40 of the proposals are now being considered (IPW, WIPO, 22 February, 2007). The remainder will be addressed in June. A significant amount of the negotiation is taking place in informal sessions along the lines of WIPO’s regional groups and the cross-regional group of most-developed countries known as Group B. The draft texts have been discussed informally already, but in the evening of 22 February, they were briefly discussed in plenary and then in the regional groups. Later, the meeting chair, Ambassador Trevor Clarke of Barbados, was to meet with the regional coordinators “plus two” (meaning two countries they wished to bring along) as well as the countries that had put forward the original proposal. The aim was to finish cluster A and B and “try to find consensus,” the chair said. This closed meeting “upstairs,” referring to WIPO’s high-rising headquarters, would also take place on 23 February, the chair said, when the aim would be to finish clusters C to F. Officials and non-governmental organisations praised the chair for his efficiency. On 22 February, the chair emphasised that the documents were not final, and said that they would only become so once the plenary decided it. He said the meetings “upstairs” were meant to bring in the views of the different groups, represented by the coordinators. Sources told Intellectual Property Watch that there was largely an agreement on one of the most controversial set of topics, cluster B on “norm-setting, flexibilities, public policy and public domain.” The third draft was presented on 22 February. This is the most important subject matter for the 15 developing countries in the Friends of Development group who initiated the Development Agenda idea to make WIPO more development friendly. Developing countries watched closely the progress of the group as Kyrgyzstan, which they view as having not acted in their interest during this process, volunteered to lead the cluster. The 22 February version on cluster B that was presented in plenary reads: “1) Norm-setting activities shall [“should” in first version]: be inclusive and member driven; take into account different levels of development; take into consideration a balance between costs and benefits [new since first version]; be a participatory process, which takes into consideration the interests and priorities [only “the views” in first version] of all WIPO member states and other stakeholders, including civil society at large; and be in line with the principle of neutrality of the WIPO secretariat.” It continued: “2) Consider the preservation of the public domain within WIPO’s normative process and deepen the analysis of the implication and benefits of a rich and accessible public domain [new from first version].” But in plenary, Colombia in particular took issue with the inclusion of language on the protection of the public domain. It questioned the status of this document and asked if it was supposed to reflect consensus. Colombia expressed its reservation, the official said. Nigeria wanted to replace the language on “civil society at large” with “consider the viewpoints of intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations.” Brazil said that WIPO members only needed to take into consideration, not necessarily adopt, the views of civil society as a large, and said that this was the least the member states could do. As for Colombia’s reservation, Brazil’s delegate pointed out that this was an ongoing process and the recommendations of the PCDA to the General Assembly would only be fully adopted after its second special session in June. He said members needed to have the full view before starting to make reservations. A number of non-governmental groups in attendance have strong opinions on the public domain issue. Meanwhile, Uruguay prepared a paper calling for the inclusion of the recognition of human rights at WIPO. The document highlights United Nations agreements on human rights, including children’s right to education and freedom of expression, authors’ rights, and the need for balance between intellectual property rights and the right to participate in culture and gain the benefits of scientific progress. Uruguay said that as WIPO is a UN body, these should be recognised. William New contributed to this report. Tove Gerhardsen may be reached at email@example.com. 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