WIPO Committee On Development Agenda Suspended, Discussions Bogged DownPublished on 7 May 2011 @ 1:18 am
By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch
The World Intellectual Property Organization committee in charge of overseeing the implementation of the organisation’s cornerstone Development Agenda, ended abruptly when the session was suspended after a strong disagreement over a development project.
On Friday night, 6 May, delegates were furiously working their phones to try to find some agreement on a project on South-South cooperation. They had already struggled all week on a number of other projects implementing the 45 recommendations of the 2007 Development Agenda, and on modalities of a coordination mechanism setting standard procedures for reporting and which WIPO committees should report to the General Assembly.
The WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) met from 2-6 May. Delegates had set out the week with hopes of addressing several projects and the tricky coordination mechanism (IPW, WIPO, 4 May 2011).
The project [pdf] entitled “Enhancing South/South cooperation on intellectual property and development among developing countries and least developed countries” (LDCs) was originally submitted by Egypt at the last session of the CDIP, from 22-26 November 2010, and was presented at this week’s session by the African Group.
According to the document presented by the African Group, the project “aims to achieve tangible results in the following areas in developing countries and the LDCs:” promoting development-oriented IP technical and legal assistance, IP institutional capacity building, domestic innovation capacity building, facilitating access and dissemination of knowledge and technology, and the use of IP flexibilities, plus understanding the link between IP and competition policies.
Closed Meetings Trigger Opposition
It is the programme of work of the project that brought discontent. In the project, two inter-regional meetings were planned among developing countries and LDCs, and two annual conferences with the full WIPO membership. According to sources, the two inter-regional meetings would have been closed meetings only allowing members from developing countries and LDCs and that was challenged, in particular by developed countries.
Some concessions were made so that only the first inter-regional meeting would have been closed and the second one would be open to developed countries but only with an observer status, with one conference open to the whole WIPO membership, according to sources. Some developed countries argued that no meeting should be restricted to only some members as some developing countries purported the opposite opinion, saying that a closed meeting would constitute the first step of South-South collaboration, sources said.
No consensus seemed reachable and Egypt asked for a vote to adopt the project, backed by India and South Africa. Matters got only worse when a developed country member asked for a secret ballot vote, which gave way to a discussion on the WIPO rules of procedures and the difficulty to organise a secret ballot vote this late into the evening and the meeting, sources said.
Egypt finally asked for a suspension of the meeting, backed by India, according to a source. The vice-chair of the meeting, Garikai Kashitiku, first secretary of the permanent mission of Zimbabwe, suspended the meeting.
According to some developing country sources, the suspension of the meeting is allowing the project on South/South cooperation to survive the dissentions as a vote might have ruled it out.
Earlier in the last evening, the vice-chair circulated the draft report of the meeting [pdf], which was never discussed, sources said.
Coordination Mechanism on Hold
One other area of disagreement is the coordination mechanism, which was not an agenda item and has been discussed exclusively in informal meetings this week, without much progress, although a developed country source told Intellectual Property Watch on 4 May that some progress had been made on modalities. India provided a draft text [pdf] on the last day on modalities of the coordination, monitoring, assessing and reporting mechanism for the development agenda. It was unclear at press time if delegates had discussed the draft text.
In this draft proposal, India proposed that all WIPO committees and bodies report annually to the General Assembly about the manner in which Development Agenda recommendations are being mainstreamed in their work, and how they are contributing to the implementation of the 45 recommendation of the Development Agenda.
India also proposed that the session of the committee/body immediately preceding the session of the General Assembly contains a standing agenda item titled “Implementation of the Development Agenda.”
Development Projects in Limbo
With the suspension of the session, the delegates will have to start where they left off, Kashitiku told Intellectual Property Watch.
Most projects discussed this week could not be approved by the committee, with the exception of a project on intellectual property and the informal economy [pdf].
A project on “brain drain” was approved but with a list of considerations from member states to modify it [pdf].
A project on patent-related rights and the public domain was not adopted, nor a project on patent-related flexibilities in the multilateral legal framework and their legislative implementation at the national level. A scoping study on copyright and related rights and the public domain was discussed, and India asked that work be taken further on the study’s recommendation.
Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com.