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Quantitative Analysis Of Contributions To NETMundial Meeting

A quantitative analysis of the 187 submissions to the April NETmundial conference on the future of internet governance shows broad support for improving security, ensuring respect for privacy, ensuring freedom of expression, and globalizing the IANA function, analyst Richard Hill writes.


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    WIPO Audit/Evaluation Process Comes Of Age, With A Development Side

    Published on 11 November 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    Evaluation and auditing of the World Intellectual Property Organization gained increased interest a few years ago when rich member countries responsible for most of its revenues became alarmed about questions of financial and human resources management. But now the UN agency’s sometimes bumpy evaluation process is maturing, including a development aspect, and has a new external report on its global technical assistance programmes.

    At the October annual WIPO General Assembly, members approved the appointment of a new WIPO External Auditor, the highly lauded current Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Vinod Rai. Rai, who has established respect for his key audit reports within India, will perform the WIPO office on 1 January 2012 until 2017. Rai, who is the first developing country official to hold the WIPO External Auditor post (beating out candidates from Norway, the United Kingdom and Spain, among others), was named a “person of the year” by Forbes magazine (US) in July.

    The outgoing External Auditor, Kurt Grüter, a top official from Switzerland, gave generally good marks to WIPO financial situation at the October Assembly. He stressed the importance of WIPO securing a specialist responsible for monitoring the implementation and application of the recently adopted International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), among other things.

    Members at the October Assembly also approved a new director of the WIPO Internal Audit and Oversight Division, Thierry Rajaobelina, a national of Madagascar and France. The selection process, started in early 2011, saw more than 50 applications for the post. Rajaobelina has been deputy director, head of internal audit at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Austria.

    Rajaobelina will take over after the 14 January 2012 expiry of the appointment of the current director, Nicholas Treen. The post is for five years, non-renewable (and the person may not later take a job at WIPO). There is also a WIPO Ombudsman and an Ethics Officer.

    The WIPO Internal Oversight Charter is the framework for the internal audit and other functions of WIPO. The mission of those functions is “to examine and evaluate, in an independent manner, WIPO’s control and business systems and processes, and to provide recommendations for improvement, thus providing assurance and assistance to management and staff in the effective discharge of their responsibilities and the achievement of WIPO’s mission, vision, objectives, outcomes and goals.”

    Evaluation is defined in the charter as “a systematic, objective and impartial assessment focused on whether expected accomplishments and results have been achieved.”

    At the 2005 General Assembly, WIPO member states approved the establishment of a WIPO Audit Committee, reporting to the Program and Budget Committee. At the 2010 General Assembly, the name was changed to Independent Advisory Oversight Committee (IAOC), and at the 2011 Assembly last month, revised terms of reference were approved, changing the makeup of the committee.

    Under the rotation mechanism (Assembly document WO/GA/40/2), no committee member can serve more than 6 years, four members are serving 3 years from February 2011, and three members will serve for 3 years non-renewable. New members will be determined by drawing of lots, and after the first 3-year period, all committee members will be nominated for a 3-year term, renewable once (except the three non-renewable ones). Finally, each committee member will be replaced by a candidate from the same geographical region, unless there is already another member on the committee from that region, or there is no candidate from the region that meets the Selection Panel’s criteria.

    The IAOC is an “independent, expert advisory and external oversight body,” which “aims to assist Member States in their role of oversight and for better exercise of their governance responsibilities.”

    The committee reviews and monitors WIPO’s internal audit function, and can be asked to review or oversee particular projects, like the new construction project or the ongoing WIPO desk-to-desk assessment, in which each position in the organisation is being scrutinised.

    Mixed Report from Internal Auditor

    Outgoing WIPO Internal Auditor Nicholas Treen, in his summary annual report (Assembly document WO/GA/40/4), cited progress at WIPO, but said that “Internal Oversight still remains marginalized and lacking in status, staff and importance.” He also said that “risk acceptance by senior management of fewer high-risk audits than are considered necessary by IAOD, is not yet acceptable.” Available resources for timely investigations “are not yet at adequate levels,” and “much fewer than desirable evaluation reports have been provided due to lack of staff.”

    Treen said at an October meeting on evaluation and development that the establishment of the WIPO IAOD has been “difficult.”

    The main purpose of the independent evaluation function at WIPO is “to promote and to ensure substantive (rather than financial) accountability of the investments made, and as a basis for learning to improve the relevance and quality of future actions,” according to the IAOD revised WIPO Evaluation Policy of 4 May 2010. The policy lays out a range of ways the IAOD Evaluation Section maintains its independence, within WIPO, on a personal level, and from outside the organisation.

    Treen said that over the past 4-5 years it has been “disappointing” that staffing has been inconsistent – sometimes with no staffing. But he added, “We are more hopeful that moving into 2012 [WIPO] will do more on staffing.”

    In what he said is “my last report at the end of a challenging, stressful and shortened term of office,” Treen said he was grateful for the opportunity and had several strong recommendations for member states in the coming years.

    The recommendations include:

    - Rename the IAOD head as Inspector General, to improve status
    - Make Inspector General part of the “senior staff,” (fulfilling the original 2005 Internal Audit Charter) and graded as an Assistant Director General
    - Allow IAOD budget proposals to be submitted directly to the member states
    - Allow the IAOD head to be the chair of recruitment and selection boards for IAOD staff, and be able to submit recruitment proposals directly to the director general for approval.

    Internal Oversight in 2012-2013

    In the proposed Program and Budget for 2012/2013, the WIPO director general said “the strengthening of the Internal Oversight services has continued” during the 2010/2011 biennium.

    For the next biennium, the secretariat said internal audit “will continue to focus on high-risk audits and provide advice for the improvements of internal controls, information security and risk management.” There will be regular monitoring and reporting, full implementation of new software applications by 2012, and a two-stage review process of audit reports is being instituted.

    There will be further development of evaluation reports, wide dissemination and timely follow-up, the secretariat said. The internal oversight function will also continue to help management implement an “ethics and integrity” framework “within which all WIPO staff have clear duties, roles, responsibilities and rights.” This includes putting in place formalized whistle-blowing procedures and a “hot line”. It will also continue supporting the development of ethics and conduct codes, and a system of financial disclosures based on UN good practice.

    Furthermore, a risk assessment framework will be developed, the secretariat said, “to mitigate against the occurrence of wrongdoing, misbehaviour and fraud.” A program to counter these will be developed along with other parties.

    The internal audit team will also support the director general’s Strategic Realignment Program,
    particularly internal control, risk management, ethics and information security, and will support the Development Agenda, the secretariat said. Coordination will continue with the External Auditor, Ombudsman and Ethics Office, as well as the UN more broadly, and more oversight tools such as manuals, policies and guidelines will be developed.

    “The next couple of years are crunch time” for the WIPO evaluation process, an official told Intellectual Property Watch. There has been resistance at the start, but if momentum can be built, “then people will want to do better.”

    Evaluation and Development

    With the implementation of the 2007 Development Agenda, there is another side to the evaluation process, and efforts are being made to understand the interplay of evaluation and development.

    “This is a new venture for this organisation,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said at a recent event entitled, “Learning from Existing Evaluation Practices on the Impacts and Effects of Intellectual Property on Development,” that grew from the Development Agenda.

    “We are very serious about taking forward this idea of evaluation” to assess the outcome and impact of WIPO programmes, Julia Flores Marfetan, senior evaluation officer in the Evaluation Section of the WIPO Internal Audit and Oversight Division (IAOD), told the 6-7 October meeting.

    “This is a very large part of this organisation,” accounting for more than 20 percent of its revenues, she said. “It’s important that we do this well.”

    The Evaluation Section is headed by Claude Hilfiker.

    One new area is an external, independent review of WIPO technical assistance, which has recently been released and is on the agenda for next week’s WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP).

    Another review is of a pilot technical assistance support centre in Kenya. There is “almost overwhelming” demand for these centres, Flores said.

    WIPO staff acknowledge that evaluation can be difficult. Criticism is not easy and self-criticism is even harder, Flores said. But it is useful in giving senior management information it needs to know how programmes are going.

    On the Kenya “country portfolio evaluation,” the mission was being completed in October with results expected in December. Initial findings show that it has received successful support, a WIPO official said. Kenya is reaching “critical mass” in sustainability of its IP system and stakeholders have shown a “keen interest” in the evaluation. If the event is rated successful, WIPO will repeat it.

    The independent country portfolio evaluations focus on the entire WIPO assistance in a country, providing an assessment of past and current activity so as to improve cooperation strategies, country programmes and “IP interventions,” according to a WIPO information sheet on the Kenya project.

    Evaluation reports will be publicly available, with a “wide” dissemination policy, an official said, including being passed on to the WIPO Audit and Oversight Committee.

    Report on WIPO Technical Assistance

    How widely the independent external review of WIPO technical assistance will be disseminated is unclear. The report was submitted to WIPO in summer by authors Carolyn Deere (Oxford University Global Governance Project and Board Chair of Intellectual Property Watch) and Santiago Roca (Professor of Economics at the ESAN Graduate School of Business in Lima and former director of Peru’s Industrial Property Office). But to date it has not been promoted externally. The report appeared quietly on the WIPO website in September and is expected to be addressed by member states at the 14-18 November CDIP.

    Developing country members of WIPO had long suspected that WIPO’s technical assistance is oriented toward promoting developed country interests, such as IP protection and enforcement. Developing countries, seeking to ensure assistance is tailored to their particular interests, called for the independent external review under the WIPO Development Agenda, adopted in 2007.

    The report looked at three years, 2008-2010, with a focus on generating evidence-based findings, Deere told the evaluation meeting in October. It was directed to examine the “effectiveness, impact, efficiency and relevance” of WIPO technical cooperation activities, and comes in the context of overall organisational change under Director General Gurry’s ongoing Strategic Realignment Program (SRP).

    The report involved months of analysis of WIPO reports, interviews, six country case studies, consultations with Geneva-based missions, and other ways to get feedback about WIPO activities in the field.

    Deere said the scale of the analysis turned out to be “massive,” as the researchers were asked to look at the entire suite of WIPO activity – and development assistance accounts for some 20 percent of WIPO’s budget. This was the first document of its kind, so there was little to build on, she noted. The researchers had more difficulty getting information from member states than expected, she said, with about 30-40 responses in the end. And countries often lacked a clear contact point for the researchers to work with, she said.

    Deere had a number of recommendations for members, such as to think through what is intended for follow-up, what decisions they will want to be able to make from the document, so that the review “has some life afterwards.”

    Treen called the technical assistance report “extremely useful” and said its timing is “helpful to the change process” at WIPO.

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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