External Review Of WIPO Technical Assistance Stirs Quiet DebatePublished on 3 April 2012 @ 10:55 pm
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch
Members of the World Intellectual Property Organization are quietly but heatedly discussing how to address an external review of WIPO technical assistance in the lead-up to the next Committee on Development and IP (CDIP) meeting, according to sources. And some are watchful that there not be an effort to bury the substantive and at-times critical review, even as WIPO has issued a lengthy response to it.
An ad hoc working group on the review created at the last meeting of the CDIP in November has begun meeting in recent weeks, with the next one planned for tomorrow, 4 April. After initial discussions on methodology and a schedule of meetings, the group held its first substantive meeting to discuss the recommendations of the report on 21 March, according to WIPO.
According to sources, there was also a meeting between WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and a number of ambassadors in Geneva before the working group meetings began, which some said might have served to pre-empt the discussions. WIPO did not respond to confirm which ambassadors were in attendance.
Meanwhile, the WIPO secretariat has issued its management response to the report, as requested by the CDIP. The 85-page WIPO response is available here.
The mission of the review was to conduct a “macro level assessment of WIPO’s technical assistance activities to ascertain their effectiveness, impact, efficiency and relevance.” It found progress but also numerous shortcomings, and made recommendations in five key areas: relevance and orientation, impact, management, cost-efficiency, and coordination.
In its response, WIPO notes that the review covered the period 2008 to 2010, which WIPO said was a period of transition for the UN agency after the abrupt change in leadership. The secretariat groups the recommendations into three categories:
(A) Recommendations which are already reflected in WIPO activities, or ongoing reform programs;
(B) Recommendations which merit further consideration; and
(C) Recommendations which raise concerns as to implementation.
Under group A, WIPO fits activities it has already undertaken to those recommendations, and gives the sense that it is well ahead on meeting them. But it will be up to the CDIP to decide if it is meeting the recommendations or not. They also would likely assess whether WIPO has interpreted the recommendations correctly in all cases.
Under group B, in many instances, WIPO acknowledges the necessity to do more, and often assures member states of its awareness of the need, suggesting that it will take direction from them going forward.
Under Group C, WIPO pushed back on some recommendations, which it said “raise concern,” such as a challenge to its basic mission statement to promote IP. An example is:
“… the Report proposes that WIPO, when providing legislative advice, should take into account “the needs of a diversity of potential users and stakeholders at the national level, and to strategic prioritization among them”. However, the requests for advice received by WIPO from Member States are not framed in this way, and the issues are so intensely political and local that it would not be appropriate or effective for WIPO to address them.”
There are numerous examples where WIPO signals that it will do more if directed by member states as a whole, or by the individual country to which it is providing technical assistance.
The original review demonstrates how much a part of WIPO’s work technical assistance is. Like the bigger Development Agenda, it addresses issues within and outside the organisation.
The WIPO Development Agenda was adopted in 2007. In November 2009, the CDIP approved the “Project on Enhancement of WIPO’s Results-Based Management (RBM) Framework to Support the Monitoring and Evaluation of the Impact of the Organization’s Activities on Development.” This included an external review of WIPO technical assistance in the area of cooperation for development.
The review, conducted by Carolyn Deere Birkbeck and Santiago Roca, was delivered to the CDIP in November 2011. The committee then set up the ad hoc working group to examine the report and make recommendations to the next CDIP (IPW, WIPO, 18 November 2012) The group is also looking at the report to identify any redundancies or areas that have already been addressed.
According to WIPO, the ad hoc working group is composed of all interested members of the CDIP, and is led by two co-chairs – the coordinators for the African Group and the Group B developed countries. There are also two co-rapporteurs from among the participating members. The group expects to hold about four meetings in all before the next CDIP.
The ad hoc working group was set up by the CDIP with the following modalities:
1. The ad hoc working group will be open to regional coordinators and other interested delegates, and facilitated by the Secretariat. The setting of this ad hoc working group will not set any precedent;
2. There will be no budgetary implications associated with the ad hoc working group;
3. The work of the Secretariat in the form of the management response as directed by the project (CDIP/4/8, Section 2.3, Component 2, paragraph (c), at p.10), and its accompanied terms of reference, can feed in the work of the ad hoc working group. The Secretariat shall ensure the early completion of its response;
4. The ad hoc working group will commence its work after the current session, with the commitment to present a report on its findings to the ninth session of the Committee. If the Committee deems that it is necessary to extend the ad hoc working group, it should do so by consensus at its ninth session.
5. The ad hoc working group should strive to review CDIP/8/INF/1, with the emphasis on identifying recommendations that are redundant or no longer relevant, without any prioritization of recommendations. The ad hoc working group may also choose to discuss the other elements of the study in an effort to save time for discussions during the ninth session of the Committee;
6. The report to be presented shall not duplicate the work of the Committee, nor direct the Committee to take action, but only serve as a tool to expedite the discussions within the Committee; and
7. At least one day should be set aside during the ninth session of the Committee to discuss the ad hoc working group’s report, the management response of the Secretariat and CDIP/8/INF/1.
William New may be reached at email@example.com.