Important Agenda For WIPO Coordination Committee Tomorrow 12/09/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment 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 Google+ (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. On 12 September, a powerful member-state committee at the World Intellectual Property Organization will consider the nomination of a new head of copyright, and a sensitive agenda item on a highly secret UN report on whether the WIPO director general engaged in wrongdoing. Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General The WIPO Coordination Committee will hold an extraordinary session tomorrow. It appears the session will be closed door with no webcast. The first substantive item on the agenda is to approve the nomination of Sylvie Forbin [corrected] of France as deputy director general of the WIPO Copyright and Creative Industries Sector. Forbin comes from the copyright industry and was nominated as a replacement in July by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry (IPW, WIPO, 14 July 2016). Then Gurry himself will be the subject of scrutiny under the next agenda item, as the committee considers a request by some 17 WIPO member states, including some of the UN agency’s most powerful members (e.g., Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States), to hold a review of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report on charges made against Gurry. Asked about the intent of the letter, a delegate of one of the European countries told Intellectual Property Watch the aim is mainly to close the longstanding issue (IPW, WIPO, 12 April 2016) one way or the other. The charges leveled by his second-in-command in 2013 included one that he ordered DNA to be taken from the offices of two WIPO workers and tested without their knowledge after Gurry received an unsigned threatening letter in his office during the tense election campaign of 2007, which he ultimately won by one vote. The second charge was that Gurry steered a contract to a more expensive bidder whom he favoured despite another bidder having a slightly better score in the agency’s procurement process. The favoured bidder was the former head of an international internet agency, and a fellow countryman of Gurry, but no personal connection has been alleged between the two other than acquaintance. The OIOS issued its report earlier this year but it was held in ultra-secrecy from WIPO member states by the chair of the WIPO General Assembly, then-Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Duque. The report was withheld from member states but a three-page summary was circulated to regional coordinators, reportedly written by Duque. The three-pager said the OIOS found insufficient evidence to tie Gurry to the DNA testing, but that there was apparent wrongdoing on the procurement contract. On the DNA, the suggestion raised a question about the Swiss handling of the case, as it would have had knowledge of who provided the sample for testing but apparently would not reveal the name. WIPO member states were finally allowed to view the OIOS report in May, but only for limited time and in a secure reading room under supervision where they could not bring any electronic equipment nor take any notes. Since that time, another summary of the report has emerged that essentially declares Gurry to be absolved from all wrongdoing, according to sources familiar with the new summary. Duque has since departed Geneva to become ambassador to Japan. In his stead, the vice-chair of the General Assembly, Latvian Ambassador Janis Karklins, is filling the role. Ironically, Karklins served on the Board of the international internet agency while headed by the person to whom Gurry allegedly steered the contract. But asked about this possible conflict of interest by Intellectual Property Watch during the recent WIPO Program and Budget Committee (PBC) meeting (which Karklins chaired), Karklins said he was unaware of the issue and that there is no conflict. The PBC members meanwhile took several actions aimed at strengthening the organisation’s process for handling investigations involving top officials. The issues are expected to come up at the early October annual WIPO General Assembly. Meanwhile, several members of the United States Congress and others in the US have raised serious concerns about the whistleblowers in the investigation of Gurry. In a 29 August letter [pdf] to the concerned congressional members from former WIPO DDG James Pooley, he says the OIOS report was shared with Gurry in unredacted form before it was completed. This meant that Gurry was able to see the names of the whistleblowers in the report, and charges that the whistleblowers have faced incrimination since. 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