WIPO Negotiators Urged To Speed Up, As Musician Stevie Wonder Steps Up

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Pop star Stevie Wonder was a surprise guest this morning at the plenary session of the World Intellectual Property Organization diplomatic conference in Marrakesh concocting a treaty to facilitate access for blind people to books. The president of the diplomatic conference also exhorted delegates to bridge gaps and reach consensus.

In a video message, Wonder, who is blind, delivered encouragement to WIPO delegates gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 17-28 June to agree on a treaty to facilitate cross-border exchange of special format works for blind and visually impaired people. He said he would come to Marrakesh to celebrate the adoption of the treaty.

Wonder said he was delighted to hear that delegates were working very hard and that everyone is committed to leaving Marrakesh with an agreement. “This is music to my ears,” he said.

“All of you, great minds representing governments all around the world, have the opportunity to do right or wrong” “Here in the final sprint of a marathon that has spanned many years, time is short,” he said. “The time has come today, not tomorrow, today,” he insisted.

“This is our legacy, your gift to future generations.” – Stevie Wonder

“The world’s blind and visually impaired are counting on you. I am counting on you,” he said. “Don’t let me down, but most of all please don’t let them down.”

“This is our legacy, your gift to future generations,” Wonder said. “So let’s at last finalise this new agreement and open the doors to the world of written treasures, moving towards a future where there are no barriers to the expansion of knowledge and the enjoyment of culture, even for the visually impaired ”

“Do this, and I will come to Marrakesh, and we will celebrate together,” he promised, “Are you feeling it, can you relate? Do you know what I am saying, I know you do! So do it!”

Wonder began his commitment to WIPO in 2010 when he appeared at the annual General Assembly and urged member states to negotiate this treaty (IPW, WIPO, 20 September 2013).

Mustapha Khalfi, the Moroccan Minister of Communication and president of the diplomatic conference, urged delegates to come to an agreement on remaining issues. “We are not going to leave Marrakesh without the treaty,” he hammered.

“It is our responsibility,” he added, asking delegates to breach their differences by Tuesday next week so that on Wednesday, the drafting committee could get to work. “I am counting on the engagement and willingness of all delegations in order to make this happen,” he said, adding “to send a clear message to the world.” “We are working for humanity,” he said and it is a huge responsibility.

In the meantime, in Committee I, a number of elected officials are trying to find consensus and propose agreed text to the plenary in closed meetings.

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

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