WIPO Assembly Approves New Budget Unlocking Gears Of Change 12/12/2008 by William New, 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 William New The member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organization gave their first vote of confidence for the secretariat’s plans to realign the UN organisation Friday as they unanimously approved a reworked budget for 2008-2009. The approval came in an extraordinary one-day General Assembly on 12 December that ended quickly after the Program and Budget Committee finished ironing out differences earlier in the day. The approval of a two-year CHF628 million (about US$532 million) budget initiates the vision of Francis Gurry, the 20-plus year WIPO veteran appointed director general at the annual General Assemblies in September. His plan aims to put WIPO back in the centre of the global IP stage with cutting edge technology, ideas, and management practices. The biggest areas of spending remain the administration of the patent, trademark and internet domain name services WIPO oversees, followed by general organisational administration and conferences. The secretariat in the spring will have to develop another proposed programme and budget for 2010-2011, to be approved by next autumn’s annual assemblies. This revised 2008-2009 is only a slight increase over the previously approved version. Gurry met with his first taste of the new, more prominent role in WIPO affairs of developing countries, as numerous countries questioned his proposed budget’s treatment of funding allocation for approved programmes of the Development Agenda. His office reworked some allocations to meet the approved CHF8 million for those programmes. “Support for the Development Agenda has clearly taken centre stage in our deliberations,” sources said an Egyptian delegate told the assemblies. Developing countries also held in check a possible expansion of enforcement activities at WIPO by balancing a plan to boost “respect for IP” with additional social considerations (IPW, WIPO, 11 December 2008). Sources said a delegate from Algeria, which represents the African Group, suggested stepped up communications between the secretariat and members on budgetary matters, after the confusion arose over the CHF8 million. Members agreed to let the secretariat dip generously into its sizeable reserve fund in the next year. Committee Chairmanship Policy Another issue that arose this week was the somewhat “mystical” – as one delegate put it – process of the selection of committee chairs at WIPO. Asian countries raised a proposal to systematise the selection, irked by the absence of a single chairmanship from their region on any of WIPO’s top 10 committees. The committees address traditional knowledge, patents, trademarks, copyrights, enforcement, development, and information technology, plus the General Assembly, Coordination Committee (the WIPO executive body), and Program and Budget Committee. According to a proponent of the change, of those committees, the Group B developed countries have four (trademarks, copyrights, information technology, Program and Budget), the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries has four (traditional knowledge, patents, development, Coordination Committee), and the African Group has two (enforcement, General Assembly). A working group was formed to consider a proposal for a “fair and equitable” approach to rotating chairs among regional groups, by May 2009. Audit Committee Extended; Funder Conference Planned A decision also was made to extend the mandate and composition of the existing Audit Committee by another year, according to a government official. The mandate had been set to expire this year but with the leadership transition members decided to keep the same small (nine-member) team in place for now, he said. The committee also has oversight of the new strategic realignment. In addition, Gurry will begin consultations with members on 19 December to discuss details of a funder conference for development that is expected to be held in 2009. A proposal was put before the Program and Budget Committee this week (IPW, WIPO, 11 December 2008). William New may be reached email@example.com. 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) Related "WIPO Assembly Approves New Budget Unlocking Gears Of Change" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.