WIPO Members Work To Toughen Up Procedures For Investigations Of High-Level Officials 07/10/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 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)Member governments of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are working intensively in a closed-door session today to make changes to the way allegations of wrongdoing against high-ranking WIPO officials are handled. What is not clear from the secretive discussions is whether any action will be taken against the director general as a result of a UN investigation of his activities, for which the UN report is on the meeting agenda. The annual WIPO General Assemblies are taking place from 3-11 October. The Coordination Committee met all day today. Informal meetings have been taking place this week. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry at a recent WIPO meeting In a key element of this week’s agenda, members are considering proposed changes to the WIPO Oversight Charter, which provides rules for handling allegations. [Update:] A revised version of the proposed changes to the Oversight Charter was circulated to member states on Friday evening for possible approval on Monday. The original changes proposed by the member-state Internal Advisory Oversight Committee (IAOC) on request of the Program and Budget Committee are available here [pdf]. The changes broadly work to create more accountability and independence in the process, as well as more confidentiality of documents. The issue came up over the past couple of years in the context of allegations against Director General Francis Gurry. The Coordination Committee also has on its agenda to address the report of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services OIOS) on the accusations against Gurry. These included the assertion that he was involved in testing the DNA of two unknowing WIPO employees to determine if they were linked to anonymous threatening letters Gurry received, and his influencing a procurement contract by steering it to a particular contractor who cost significantly more despite having scored slightly lower in the selection process. A key issue in this matter is what to do about the whistleblowers who came forward in the investigation as there is concern for providing sufficient protection from retaliation. The website whistleblower.org has detailed some of these issues, for instance in this post that includes a 9-page letter from Gurry about one of his accusers, Jim Pooley’s possible motivations, followed by Pooley’s response. During the week, there have not been signals that Gurry will be facing sanctions for his actions, but at press time it was unknown. Some delegations have continued to raise concern about the allegations, while numerous others have declared themselves satisfied after reading the OIOS report that the matter can now be closed. Below is IP-Watch reporting by IP-Watch’s Catherine Saez on the floor discussion on the issue from 5 October at the General Assembly. [Agenda Items 9.1. a and b] Report [pdf] by the WIPO Independent Advisory Oversight Committee (IAOC) and Proposals for Amendments to the Internal Oversight Charter by the Independent Advisory Oversight Committee (IAOC).] Member states were provided with the annual report of the IAOC. The IAOD reviewing the activities of WIPO made a set of recommendations which are being implemented. Based on lessons learned at the Programme and Budget Committee (PBC), he encouraged member states to concentrate on recommendations which have been implemented rather than on recommendations not closed yet. The PBC tasked the IAOC to propose changes to the Internal Oversight Charter, he said. The primary objective of those changes, he said, is to provide member states with access to reports to which they did not have access before, such as unpublished reports, and to cover investigation of senior officials. Unfortunately, the committee had very little time for this exercise and it was decided to prepare a proposal [pdf] which is technically robust and can serve as a basis for member states discussions, he said. The details of the proposal are one alternative, but not the only one, he said, encouraging member states to engage in discussion to find consensus on the changes to be brought to the charter. He said the vice-chair of the General Assembly, Amb. Juan Raúl Heredia Acosta of Mexico would facilitate informal discussions between member states this week. The United States said that the US and other interested member states have a few suggestions to the proposed amendments and would be happy to discuss in informal settings so that the document can be adopted by consensus. Switzerland said it welcomes the proposal by the IAOC. “We believe it is important to strengthen the necessary provisions of the charter in particular with regard to how to deal with the filing of investigation reports on higher senior officials in the future,” the Swiss delegate said. Australia said the charter should be aligned with the UN system for efficiency, independence and transparency of investigatory processes. Canada said amending the charter is a positive step towards clarifying roles and responsibilities and supports good governance and transparency in the UN system, and clear predictable standardised processes. Mexico said the proposal is a good way for improving the procedure for investigating allegations against WIPO officials. Brazil welcomed further discussions, as well as Pakistan, and Nigeria on behalf of the African Group. Image Credits: WIPO 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."WIPO Members Work To Toughen Up Procedures For Investigations Of High-Level Officials" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.