WIPO Agrees To 2014-2015 Programme And Budget After Discussion On External OfficesPublished on 10 December 2013 @ 11:04 pm
By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch
In the nick of time, the World Intellectual Property Organization has agreed on a budget for the new biennium – which starts in three weeks.
Today marked the opening of a three-day extraordinary General Assembly, during which delegates must complete unfinished work from the annual General Assembly meeting in September. Critically important was the approval of the program and budget for the 2014-2015 biennium, which delegates managed to do after several hours of informal consultations on the sensitive issue of creating new WIPO external offices around the world.
The 52nd Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO is taking place from 10-12 December.
A decision [pdf] by General Assembly Chair Päivi Kairamo of Finland was adopted at the end of today’s session, after a proposal [pdf] by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean (GRULAC) countries was tabled this morning, then withdrawn at the end of the day.
The budget [pdf] for the next biennium is the same as presented at the September session of the Program and Budget Committee. It shows an overall income in 2014/2015 of CHF 713 million (US$ 763 million) and CHF 674 million (US$ 659 million) during the same biennium.
The chair blamed the September Assembly’s inability to finish its work in part on an overloaded agenda. Some of the work that had to be tackled by the Assembly should have been completed in different committees, she said.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry urged delegates to complete, over the next three days, “what has been a very good year for the organisation.”
Proposal On Future External Offices Out
The decision adopted by members today was a revision of a 6 December proposed decision [pdf] submitted by Kairamo, which she revised following informal consultations yesterday.
The adopted decision by the chair approved the proposed Program and Budget for the 2014/2015 biennium subject to some changes, including the formulation of targets in the results framework of Program 2 (Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications), and of Program 4 (Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions and Genetic Resources), as showed in the annex of the revised draft decision. An example of a change is that there would be a possible diplomatic conference negotiation on an industrial design treaty, rather than mandating it.
The adopted decision also deleted paragraph 20.21 (New External Offices) of Programme 20 (External Relations, Partnerships and External Offices) in an effort to separate the issue of new WIPO external offices from the adoption of the Program and Budget.
Paragraph 20.21 had read as follows: “During the next biennium, new external offices in the following locations/regions are planned: China, Russian Federation, United States of America and two in Africa. It is recognized that the establishment of external offices is a process that will not be complete in the 2014-2015 biennium. The existing offices and the newly established ones need to be monitored and the results achieved through them evaluated. Requests for further offices remain unsatisfied as yet. Ultimately, the number of external offices needs to be sustainable and ideally would constitute a limited global network of strategically placed offices.”
The adopted decision allocates CHF 0.6 million (US$ 0.67 million) in non-personnel resources for the new WIPO external offices in China and Russia (for which contracts have already been signed by WIPO), and CHF 0.9 million (US$ 1.01 million) in non-personnel resources as unallocated for possible new offices.
Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of GRULAC put forward the proposal that paragraph 20.21 be suspended instead of deleted, so that the decision allows for further discussion on external offices. It called for the suspension of paragraph 20.21 for further consideration and final decision by the Program and Budget Committee at its 23th session. It also called for the addition of the mention of one external office in Latin America and the Caribbean in paragraph 20.21, according to an earlier GRULAC proposal [pdf], from the September Assembly.
Several countries spoke in support of the chair’s proposed decision, such as India, South Korea, and the Group B developed countries. The African Group said the GRULAC proposal was interesting and worthy of further consideration.
A number of GRULAC members underlined that they did not intend to hinder the process of adopting the program and budget. Several of them suggested more time be given to delegations so that they can study the GRULAC proposal. The chair held informal consultations for most of the day to reach consensus.
The discussion on the opening of new WIPO external offices started at the July session of the Program and Budget Committee (PBC) (IPW, WIPO, 9 July 2013) when WIPO presented member states with a proposal to open five new external offices: China, Russia, the United States and two in Africa to the dismay of the GRULAC and other candidate countries who said they were left out of the process.
A New Process for External Offices
Member states then asked that clear guidelines be developed to identify potential new external offices. The guidelines will also be discussed this week. A proposal [pdf] has been tabled by GRULAC, Group B, the group of Central European and Baltic States, and India on “General Principles Regarding WIPO External Offices.”
After the adoption of decision on the Program and Budget, the African Group asked that a statement be annexed to the decision. The statement said that the decision to dissociate the discussion on external offices from the decision on the Program and Budget should not prevent the continuity of the discussion about the two WIPO external offices in Africa. Africa, the Algerian delegate said, is the only continent with no WIPO external office.
WIPO’s legal counsel said no statement could be annexed to the decision but would be annexed to the report to reflect the opinion expressed by the African Group.
Several Items Left on Agenda
Still on the agenda [pdf] of the resumed Assembly this week is: a potential diplomatic conference to finalise a procedural treaty on industrial designs, the establishment of guiding principles for WIPO’s external offices, the reporting of the Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS), and the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) – which is scheduled to meet next week.
Delegates have been working intensely over the last two months to facilitate work this week, the chair said. Remaining issues were divided in three strands, she said. Ambassador Kwok Fook Seng of Singapore was tasked with consultations regarding external offices, while Marcello Della Nina from Brazil, held consultations regarding the treaty on industrial designs.
Kairamo said she held informal consultations on the SCCR and the CWS.
Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.