WIPO Launches New Agenda On IP And DevelopmentPublished on 29 September 2007 @ 6:37 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By William New
The member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organization on Friday formally adopted a new Development Agenda, launching an enhanced development orientation across all of its activities, with details on implementation to be determined later.
“This is an important day,” Argentina Ambassador Alberto Dumont told a press briefing. “Our group is very pleased with the result that was achieved.” But he added, “Certainly this is not the end of the road.”
The assembly approved the creation of a new Committee on Development and Intellectual Property, which will meet twice in the next year for five days each. The main task will be implementation of 45 consensus proposals for change at WIPO, 19 (which have little financial or human resource cost) of them immediately. The list of 19 proposals is available here. The full list of 45 proposals as an annex is available here.
The new agenda “has facilitated the updating of this institution,” said Guilherme Patriota, minister-counsellor at the Brazilian mission, who intensely negotiated the issue over the last three years. “We’re refreshing the WIPO mandate, breathing new oxygen into it.”
“The organisation was not confident how much of a mandate it had,” Patriota said. But with a “whole series of issues” arising with new technologies, new concepts have emerged such as access to knowledge or alternative licensing methods. “The idea is to change a little bit the direction the organisation is going in order to face new challenges,” he said. “This is the beginning for many of these issues.”
The Development Agenda could be in WIPO for many years to come. At this week’s assembly, members are considering perhaps CHF20 million for development-related activities in 2008 and 2009 [clarification: this sum is for a broader program related to "strategic uses of IP for development," not just the Development Agenda.] But the next biennium will be a truer reflection of the necessary budget for these activities, said Dumont.
The idea for a Development Agenda was introduced into WIPO by Argentina and Brazil at the General Assembly in 2004, and 13 other Friends of Development later joined with them to push it through three years of negotiations.
Developing countries vowed to remain vigilant to ensure the fully agreed proposals are implemented. “Implementation of these decisions is not going to happen from one day to another,” Dumont said. “Some will take time, a lot of discussion and a lot of political will.”
Some of the more important proposals cover norm-setting, technology transfer, and a structure for integrating development into the organisation, Dumont said. The proposals suggest a reform of WIPO as an institution, particularly related to the technical assistance it provides, which has been criticised at times for its inappropriateness in least-developed countries.
And in the longer term, he said, “there are some substantive issues that require deep examination” relating to intellectual property and development.
Development impact assessments are an opportunity for WIPO to become involved in economic analysis to help in the assessments, said Patriota.
The passage of a new agenda for development at WIPO could impact work within the organisation, including patents, where there is a “very clear” link, said Dumont. But it also might affect other international organisations, such as the work on intellectual property, innovation and public health at the World Health Organization, he said. “I would say the linkages are there,” he said.
The negotiations for a Development Agenda took several incarnations during the three years and faced resistance from developed countries and to some extent from WIPO, but the Friends of Development persisted in keeping the issue on the agenda at a high level.
Dumont said it is impressive that such an agenda got done in this period of time. “We could look at it and say it took only three years,” less than most multilateral negotiations, he said.
The Friends of Development are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Kenya, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uruguay and Venezuela.
A variety of non-governmental organisations played key roles in the Development Agenda process. Some of the groups included Knowledge Ecology International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Center for International Environmental Law, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, IP Justice, Third World Network, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and the Library Copyright Alliance, and the Centre for Technology and Society at Fundacao Getulio Vargas Law School in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the intergovernmental South Centre.
William New may be reached at email@example.com.