Citing “Toxic” Environment, US Congress Members Urge Secretary Kerry To Get UN Report On WIPO 04/05/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this: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)The bipartisan heads of several United States congressional subcommittees have sent a letter urging the Obama administration to obtain the full and uncensored United Nations report on an investigation into possible misconduct by the head of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Meanwhile, procedural wrangling may be taking place within WIPO on who has the right to suppress or see the report. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry was investigated after charges were levelled by a deputy director that he wrongfully ordered DNA samples to be taken from several unknowing staff members, and that he improperly influenced a WIPO contract to steer it toward a particular businessman. The congressional members said Gurry is “engaging in a lobbying effort to prevent disclosure of the report or to have the report heavily redacted.” Redacted means sections are blacked out. “We write to urge the administration to use its full voice, vote and influence at the United Nations and demand the full and unredacted Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report into corrupt practices at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the conduct of its Director-General, Francis Gurry, be made public and available to the members of the General Assembly,” the 28 April letter said. “There is strong, bipartisan congressional interest in the results of this report and in ensuring that there is full accountability and transparency at WIPO,” it said. Procedural Moves WIPO, as a UN agency, is wholly member-state driven. But this year’s WIPO General Assembly Chair, Colombian Amb. Gabriel Duque, has blocked access to the report by member states, and appears to be in coordination with Gurry, according to government and observer sources. Duque’s office and WIPO have declared that they will not speak to the press on this matter. Duque was said to be the author of a three-page summary of the report a few weeks ago, which said the DNA matter was inconclusive but that there is evidence Gurry inappropriately influenced the contract (IPW, WIPO, 12 April 2016). According to a source, Duque met this week with WIPO regional coordinators plus three or four other member states from each region, to discuss next steps on the OIOS report. The results of the meeting were unknown at press time. But a number of member states have been said to be pressing for disclosure of the report, at least in redacted form. The chair of the WIPO Coordination Committee (a key member state executive body), Amb Francois Ngarambe of Rwanda, also has a role in the process and may be pushing for release of the report, according to sources. Guiding the process seems to be the WIPO Internal Oversight Charter, which states in paragraph 34: All investigation reports, drafts, materials, findings, conclusions and recommendations are fully confidential, unless disclosure is authorized by the Director, IAOD or the Director General. It is presumed that the director general does not want the report disclosed. The acting director of the Internal Oversight Division is Tuncay Efendioglu, who reports to Gurry. It is unknown whether he is authorising its disclosure, or what if any action he has taken. But the Internal Oversight Charter also has a clause for situations where the person in question is the director general himself. It states: Allegations of misconduct against the Director General shall be reported by the Director, IOD to the Chair of the General Assembly with a copy to the Chairs of the Coordination Committee and the IAOC. The Director, IOD shall seek the advice of the IAOC on how to proceed further. Other Congressional Concerns The congressional letter also raises concern about an “illicit transfer of technology to rogue states and retaliation against whistleblowers,” noting it was the subject of a congressional hearing in February (IPW, WIPO, 25 February 2016). In the hearing, the subcommittees heard testimony from several WIPO whistleblowers, including a former top WIPO official and Silicon Valley patent attorney, and former senior Australian government official. “We are prepared to support use of our leverage in order to bring this report to light and we stand ready to work with our Mission to hold WIPO officials accountable,” the letter added. “We also believe that the environment surrounding WIPO is toxic, and therefore urge the administration to press for the immediate dismissal of Director-General Gurry and the reinstatement of the WIPO whistleblowers.” The letter was signed by Reps. Chris Smith (R), chairman, Subcommittee on International Organizations; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), chairman, Subcommittee on Middle East & North Africa; Matt Salmon (R), chairman, Subcommittee on Asia & the Pacific; Brad Sherman (D), ranking member, Subcommittee on Asia & the Pacific; and Ted Deutch (D), ranking member, Subcommittee on Middle East & North Africa. These are all subcommittees of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 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