Development Agenda At WIPO: Still Waiting For Cultural ChangePublished on 26 September 2013 @ 8:43 pm
By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch
Progress on mainstreaming a development dimension into all World Intellectual Property Organization activities and its assessment by a dedicated committee has been called into question by developing countries concerned that the mandatory effort has slipped in importance.
WIPO defines its mission as promoting innovation and creativity “for the economic, social and cultural development of all countries, through a balanced and effective international intellectual property system.”
In 2007, the WIPO General Assembly established the Development Agenda with 45 recommendations to “enhance the development dimension of the Organization’s activities.” At the same time, a Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) was created.
Yesterday, during the 51st meeting of the WIPO General Assembly, the report of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) and Review of the Implementation of the Development Agenda Recommendations ignited sustained discussions on several issues regularly unresolved in the CDIP discussions.
Most countries acknowledged progress achieved by the CDIP and the implementation of the Development Agenda. However developing countries underlined what they consider being persistent issues in the committee.
Brazil, on behalf of the Development Agenda Group (DAG), said a number of concrete examples show progress in the implementation of the Development Agenda, such as the approval of a coordination mechanism in 2010, the inclusion in the preamble of the 2012 Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances of an item relating to the development agenda, and the broader participation of civil society in WIPO meetings.
However, “much remains to be done and more could be expected,” the delegate said. The full implementation of the Development Agenda “depends on a cultural change within WIPO as well as in the framing of intellectual property issues,” he said, but this challenge must be faced by member states and by the IP system as a whole so that intellectual property is a tool for development and not a barrier. The DAG is concerned that neither the mandate of the CDIP nor the coordination mechanism is being fully implemented, he said.
IP and Development
Two pressing issues have to be solved, he said, the first relates to the implementation of the third pillar of the CDIP mandate, which is to “discuss IP and development related issues as agreed by the Committee, as well as those decided by the General Assembly.” At the heart of the discontent between developing and developed countries on the subject is the holding of a conference on IP and development, which had to be postponed due to lack of consensus. (IPW, WIPO, 14 May 2013).
The second issue is the reporting by all relevant WIPO bodies on their implementation of the Development Agenda, as defined by the coordination mechanism, which instructs “relevant WIPO bodies to include in their annual report to the Assemblies, a description of their contribution to the implementation of the respective Development Agenda Recommendations.”
A number of developing countries have been insistent that all WIPO committees report on their contribution following the adoption of the coordination mechanism. The General Assembly decision establishing the Coordination Mechanisms and Monitoring, Assessing and Reporting Modalities (Coordination Mechanism) instructs that “the relevant WIPO bodies to include in their annual report to the Assemblies, a description of their contribution to the implementation of the respective Development Agenda Recommendations.”
Belgium, on behalf of Group B developed countries, said, “different interpretations exist with regard to the term ‘relevant bodies,” adding “we are still of the opinion that the WIPO bodies themselves should determine whether they are relevant bodies for the purpose of the Coordination Mechanism.”
“Neither the committee on WIPO standards nor the Program and Budget Committee have determined that they are relevant bodies for the purpose of the Coordination Mechanism,” the delegate said. The CWS (Committee on WIPO Standards) deals with the development of non-binding technical standards and the PBC with the “financial underpinnings of WIPO,” neither of those two committees have “in se, an intrinsic relation with development,” he concluded.
The United States remarked that after five years, some 27 Development Agenda projects have been approved by the CDIP with a budget of more than CH25 million (US$ 27.5 million) and that “numerous technical assistance activities” are being carried out pursuant to Development Agenda recommendations.
African Group Urges WIPO to Keep Development a Priority
Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, said that the CDIP should be more involved in the Global Challenges Division activities, which are health, food security and climate change, since those topics are development-related. Truth should be told, she said, explaining that discussions on the question of development are not as dynamic as they were, decisions on recommendations harder to adopt, and consensus on concrete development activities more difficult to reach. The delegate urged member states and secretariat alike to keep development as a priority.
Also discussed was a conference on IP and development, which had to be postponed due to the lack of agreement in the CDIP.
No agreement was reached on this CDIP agenda item in the Assembly in the first discussion. Assembly Chair Päivi Kairamo proposed that the General Assembly take note of the documents, but the DAG requested consultation. Algeria said clear decisions from the General Assembly were needed on pending issues to address the “persistent objections” raised in the CDIP, Egypt concurred. Group B said the General Assembly already had a full agenda with many outstanding issues and many informal consultations were ongoing and they wished to defer discussion on this agenda item. The United States said discussions should take place in the next session of the CDIP which was “the correct place” to do so.
Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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