Gurry Speaks On Allegations For First Time As WIPO Members Discuss Actions 30/09/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 5 Comments 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)Heading into next week’s annual UN World Intellectual Property Organization General Assemblies, WIPO member states are considering a report from the United Nations investigations office regarding allegations of wrongdoing made involving WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. And for first time since the allegations arose, Gurry has offered his defence. Spoiler alert: he neither confirmed nor denied it but raised questions about the legality of the process.[modified] WIPO Next week’s Assemblies (3-11 October) will be highlighted by celebrations for the entering into force of the Marrakesh Treaty ensuring access to printed works for visually impaired persons, and a range of other issues such as instructions to committees for the coming year. Also on the agenda is a highly confidential investigation report of the UN Office Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York. The meeting report, WO/CC/72/4 Prov., of the 12 September WIPO Coordination Committee meeting shows the discussion related to the OIOS report. The committee is effectively the member-state executive body at the member-state driven organisation. At issue is the OIOS report on charges by WIPO staff that Gurry was involved in the ordering of the taking and testing of DNA from two WIPO employees without their knowledge after he received an anonymous threatening letter in 2007, and that Gurry influenced a procurement contract by steering toward a bidder. A key concern is protection of the whistleblowers who brought the allegations to member states’ attention. The OIOS report appeared to have found the DNA allegations to be inconclusive but did find evidence that Gurry influenced the procurement contract, according to a summary of the report produced early this year. The 33-page Coordination Committee (CoCo) report shows the detailed back and forth between some members who sought to close the investigation and put the issue to rest, and those who want to bring changes to ensure such questions cannot arise again. A key element of the decision was to circulate the confidential report to the WIPO member states, supposedly by this week, after it was withheld from them by the chairs of the General Assemblies and of the committee, who were designated under WIPO rules to decide on how to handle it. They did make it available to members in early summer in a closed, supervised reading room under tight restrictions (limited visit time, no electronics), after receiving pressure to do so. Another element of the debate was how much to redact (black out) the report. Some WIPO officials, including Gurry himself, have apparently seen the full, unredacted versions which include the names of the whistleblowers. Gurry took the floor in the CoCo meeting, saying this was the first time he had expressed himself publicly on the issue. He said that in the interests of the organisation he had made a decision not to speak on the issue despite extensive publicity about it. He said the process had been entirely a member-state conducted process, and that any implication of resistance by the WIPO secretariat or himself was “completely unfounded,” according to the report. He raised questions about how some information got out, and suggested the procedure had not worked to protect him either so he welcomed review of the procedures that would lead to better governance. He did not appear to explicitly answer to the accusations, though he expressed his wish to defend himself. Gurry also raised a question about the legality of member states to modify the decision of the two chairs not to share the OIOS report with member states [clarified – and to take action on the report beyond the two chairs’ actions], as the process they followed was in fact set up by member states and if it was to be changed it would require a process to change it for the future. Though he was not opposed to sharing the report with members, changing the process now would violate the rule of law, he asserted. Decisions In the end, the committee agreed to request the chair to release a redacted version prior to 26 September ahead of the Assemblies blacking out the names of and identities of individuals and legal entities. A full, unredacted version will be available to members at least through the 2016 Assemblies. It recommended that the WIPO Internal Audit and Oversight Committee (IAOC) consider revising WIPO procurement rules, and that WIPO’s whistleblower policy be reviewed. Below are the meeting results as stated in the CoCo report: “The seventy-second (26th extraordinary) Coordination Committee, taking note of the discussions held under “Review of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) Report”: Took note of the OIOS Report on “Abuse of authority and procurement irregularities implicating a staff member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (ID Case N. 0164/15),” of the GA and CoCo Chairs’ decisions and recommendations dated August 5, 2016, and of all interventions by Member States. Requested the Chair to expedite the release of a redacted version of the above referenced OIOS Report prior to 26 September 2016 in advance of the General Assemblies, redacted to protect names and identities of individuals and legal entities. Emphasized the importance of Member States contributing to the revision of WIPO’s Internal Oversight Charter prior to the upcoming Assemblies and urged all Member States to carefully consider proposed amendments at the upcoming Assemblies Requested the Director of the Internal Oversight Division to continue to make the full unredacted report available to MS upon request, in a controlled reading room environment immediately through, at least, the end of the meetings of the 2016 Assemblies of WIPO Member States. Recommended to the WIPO General Assembly to direct: The IAOC to consider whether WIPO’s General Procurement Principles and related document should be revised, taking into account the review currently being undertaken by the Director General, as recommended by the General Assembly and the Coordination Committee chairs, to ensure clarity and transparency in WIPO’s procurement process, so that the conclusions and/or recommendations will be submitted to the PBC for consideration by Member States. That WIPO’s Whistleblower Protection Policy and its implementation be reviewed to ensure that the Policy takes into account lessons learned, recent developments in this area, and best practices from other organizations.” 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) Related William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Gurry Speaks On Allegations For First Time As WIPO Members Discuss Actions" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.