WIPO Staff Urge Opposition To Changes To Internal Justice System At WIPO 29/09/2013 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe here. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate. As many as 300 members of the staff of the World Intellectual Property Organization have supported a petition urging the WIPO director general to withdraw a proposed amendment to the internal justice system at the UN agency, according to informed sources. The petition calls on WIPO member states to reject the proposed changes. The issue is expected to come up tomorrow before the WIPO Coordination Committee – the member state executive body – in the context of the annual WIPO General Assemblies, which is taking place from 23 September to 2 October. The petition from staff to member states is available here [pdf]. An internal memorandum from the WIPO Staff Council to the director general, cc’d to WIPO senior management, the audit and oversight officers, and others, is available here [pdf]. The 40-page proposed amendment document, WO/CC/67/3, is available on the General Assembly website, here. A small correction was added here. The staff said in the petition that they were only informed on 12 September that revisions to the Staff Regulations and Rules would be submitted to the Coordination Committee. The amendment document is dated 16 September. Staff are seeking more time for consultations on the proposed changes, according to the Staff Council memorandum. There slightly more than 1,000 full time staff at WIPO, according to WIPO documents. The petition complains that the proposed revisions were published only in one language (English), leaving delegates working on WIPO’s other five official languages at a disadvantage. The petition also said staff members are “deeply concerned that these revisions to the internal system of justice will no longer meet the minimal requirement of justice and thus not adhere to the host country agreement.” Switzerland is the host country. It further states concerns that the proposed revisions “allow for discrimination.” It claims that no representatives elected by staff were included in the consultative group that reviewed the administration’s proposed changes. But the amendment document listed the Staff Council as among the stakeholders consulted. The names of petition signers were kept confidential out of fear of reprisal, a source said. The claimed number of signers could not be confirmed. Neither the internal memorandum nor the petition specify the areas of concern in the amendments nor give specific reasons why they are of concern. But external WIPO sources highlighted a few of the numerous concerns. For instance, the draft regulation on disciplinary procedures is seen as lacking a provision on conflict of interest and confidentiality, also seen lacking throughout the proposed amendments. Other concerns relate to the possibility of more than one simultaneous disciplinary proceeding, limits on jurisdiction, no formal record of informal processes, and the absence of qualifications for the position of an independent Ombudsperson and possible limits on the person’s areas of oversight. Additional concerns are: unclear applicable time limits for cases; lack of conditions for the referral of a conflict or grievance for an “independent investigation”; the placement of the director general as judge in appeals of cases where the director general was the supervisor; demands for detailed reasons in requests for review of administrative decisions; and the consideration of temporary suspension as not being a disciplinary measure. Still more concerns are: that a demand for restitution of funds paid to a staff member cannot be appealed; and that disciplinary measures are to be imposed by the director of human resources or the director general, which implies there will be no proceeding before a disciplinary body. Numerous other concerns exist, relating terms of dismissal, temporary suspension, serious misconduct, and the disqualification from the Appeal Board of former members of the Staff Council. According to the amendment document, the proposed changes would take effect on 1 January 2014. Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."WIPO Staff Urge Opposition To Changes To Internal Justice System At WIPO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.