WIPO Members Scrutinise Draft 2010-2011 Programme, Budget 23/07/2009 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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) Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are 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. The member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organization this week carefully analysed the draft programme and budget for 2010-2011 proposed by the WIPO secretariat – the first one fully reflecting the strategic realignment of the UN organisation by Director General Francis Gurry. And despite some 200 interventions by governments on aspects of the plan, there appeared to be support for the secretariat’s proposal for a two-year budget of CHF618.6 million Swiss francs (US$577.2 million), a decrease from 2008-2009 of 1.6 percent or CHF9.8 million Swiss francs. A lengthy line-by-line analysis of the secretariat’s proposal took place in the 20-22 July informal Program and Budget Committee meeting, The proposed budget would match anticipated income of the organisation for the period, allowing it to break even and not dip into its substantial reserves despite the dip in fees for its services as a result of the global economic downturn. The majority of WIPO’s funding comes from fees such as processing global patent applications. Several government officials said they expect the secretariat to stick to the proposed budget, while at the same time absorbing any new proposals agreed by the membership, which could be challenging. The committee this week agreed to a revised draft proposal from the secretariat, a chair’s summary, and an annex of the proposals on which there was no consensus or which were not discussed this week. The chair’s summary is expected in the next two weeks, and the other documents will be circulated before the formal meeting of the Program and Budget Committee, on 14-16 September. Recommendations from that meeting will go to the annual WIPO General Assemblies from 22 September to 1 October. Informal meetings do not involve actual negotiations, but members this week showed support for a proposal to elevate the status of WIPO’s activities with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), sources from developed and developing countries said. According to sources, questions arose related to the use of “extrabudgetary” resources, as some developing countries were concerned, for example, that if funding for the WIPO Development Agenda were placed there it might be less certain than if in the budget itself. Other proposals or questions addressed improving IP infrastructure, or questioning the focus on “respect for IP” (enforcement). Strategic goals of the director general, who took office in October 2008, include: a balanced normative framework for IP (CHF30.5 million, 46 employees or posts); providing premier global IP services (CHF252.8 million, 497 posts); facilitating the use of IP for development (CHF67.6 million, 91 posts); coordination and development of global IP infrastructure (CHF21.3 million, 40 posts); a world reference source for IP information and analysis (CHF2.9 million, 6 posts); building respect for IP (CHF2.6 million, 5 posts); IP in relation to global policy issues (CHF2.1 million, 5 posts); responsive communications interface (CHF 26.8 million, 51 posts); and having an efficient administrative and financial support structure (CHF205 million, 297 posts). Gurry highlighted several strategic objectives in his foreword to the draft proposal, such as implementing the Development Agenda; better integrating technical assistance and capacity-building with innovation and expanding its funding; helping discussions on balance in copyright and limitations and exceptions (including access for the visually impaired); developing an international instrument on the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions; improving the Patent Cooperation Treaty system; and expanding WIPO’s arbitration and mediation services. Other strategies include improving WIPO’s legal and statistical IP information; analyzing counterfeiting and piracy; and developing public policy initiatives such as an “open innovation platform for green technologies” and work toward the UN Millennium Development Goals. Another objective is a reduction in staff. In other areas, the ongoing major construction of a new adjacent headquarters office building are expected to be finished by October 2010, which is on schedule, according to the secretariat. But the secretariat also is seeking additional funds to construct a separate conference hall, and will present a feasibility study on it at the September 2009 WIPO General Assemblies. Frustrations Show Another area of lengthy discussion was on the continuation and composition of the WIPO Audit Committee. The secretariat still has not filled some positions in the Internal Audit and Oversight Division. For the committee, some members sought to reduce it to five members as it might be more efficient though it could require more secretariat resources, while others supported continuing it at nine members, representing the seven regions plus two “UN experts,” according to a participant. The secretive Audit Committee, established in 2006 over concerns about financial management at the organisation (IPW, WIPO, 14 January 2006), is scheduled to meet again from 18-21 August. Its agenda is not public. To the end of the meeting, members continued to probe the proposed programme and budget, and remained concerned that their views and proposals from the week not be lost. “It was lengthy. We went into details,” committee chair Christophe Gilhou, deputy head of mission of France to the UN, said after the meeting. This was Gilhou’s last meeting at WIPO, as he is packing to move to Boston to become the consul general of France there. “Extensive” consultations were held with members in the lead-up to the meeting, Gilhou said. At the last one on 26 June, the secretariat made a presentation of its draft proposed plan, and members were allowed to ask questions. On 9 July, they met again to give answers to the questions. Gilhou appeared to lose patience with the meeting late on the final night, as agreement could not be found on how to take the results of the meeting forward, and an agreement from the first day to provide an annex of non-consensus proposed amendments was reopened. According to participants, he even declined to allow at least one developing country member to speak. Meeting participants had agreed at the outset to hold two days in informal status and then move to a formal meeting on the third day, Gilhou told Intellectual Property Watch. But the level of scrutiny by members ate up all three days, reaching well into the final night. “Some delegations wanted to have a very close eye on the budget,” he said, but acknowledged that the secretariat had introduced substantive changes over previous years that might warrant close examination. “Developing countries want a WIPO that is much closer to developing countries,” Gilhou said, with a focus on issues such as technical assistance and programmes aimed at their needs. 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