Industry, Non-Profits Advise Negotiators On WIPO Development Agenda 26/07/2005 by Allison A. Meyer for Intellectual Property Watch 2 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)Non-profit and industry organisations last week offered a wide range of views on the incorporation of a development agenda into the work of the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Their views came as WIPO member governments debated greater participation of civil society in its activities. Statements by civil society groups were heard on the final two days of the three-day Inter-sessional Intergovernmental Meeting (IIM) on development at WIPO, where government officials addressed proposals to make the organisation more sensitive to developing country needs. The IIM met three times, in April, June and 20-22 July. A final one-day meeting will take place in September, solely to approve the report of the third IIM. The interventions contributed to a “very interesting and deep exchange of views,” IIM Chairman Rigoberto Gauto Vielman, the permanent representative of Paraguay in Geneva, said in a post-meeting press conference. Many civil society groups backed a proposal offered by the group called Friends of Development, led by Brazil and Argentina, to continue the IIM process for another year. Non-governmental organisation representatives generally sought to ensure public access to information and economic, social and cultural development in intellectual property policy. These organizations included Geneva-based 3D, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the Civil Society Coalition (CSC) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Those interested in protecting the intellectual property rights of the pharmaceutical and entertainment industries, including the Geneva-based International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations and International Federation of Film Producers Associations, generally voiced their support for a recommendation offered by the United States to refer all of the proposals made during the IIM process to an existing WIPO body called the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual Property (PCIPD). Developing countries fear that committee would be a bureaucratic dead-end for their proposals. The original Friends of Development proposal called for WIPO to incorporate a development perspective into all its activities, while the U.S. proposal advocated for the creation of a database and partnership program for development. More than 100 non-governmental organisations worldwide signed onto a statement urging the implementation of a development focus across WIPO’s activities. The “NGO Group Statement,” presented at the IIM by Robin Gross of IP Justice, an international civil liberties organisation, expressed full support for the Friends of Development proposal and recommended WIPO member states to: 1) Amend the 1967 WIPO Convention to expressly incorporate a development dimension, consistent with WIPO obligations as a United Nations agency; 2) Consider elaboration of a treaty on access to knowledge and technology; 3) Establish an independent WIPO Evaluation and Research Office; 4) Adopt principles and guidelines for the technical assistance program. Industry and producer advocates argued that the Friends of Development proposal extends WIPO’s mission into areas outside its core competency, and into areas that are already within the core competency of other U.N. agencies. These representatives opposed a restructuring of WIPO’s mandate and the creation of new WIPO offices and committees, and asserted the right to intellectual property protection as a human right. Due to the fact that many of the civil society organisations participating in the IIM process address the protection of human rights in their core work, the discussion over incorporating a development agenda into WIPO naturally led to substantive remarks on ensuring international intellectual property policy is consistent with human rights. This discussion was particularly reflected in the statement made by Tom Giovanetti of the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), an opponent of the Friends of Development proposal, who invoked Article 27 (on the right to protection of scientific, literary and artistic production) of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as basis for asserting that the right to intellectual property protection is a human right. The statement was further elaborated by citing part one of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which states “lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognised human rights.” A subsequent statement given by Sangeeta Shashikant of Third World Network (TWN) directly addressed the intervention by IPI in specifying that the international declaration cited “does recognise rewarding intellectual contribution,” but does not specifically mention “intellectual property rights.” The statement by TWN, a supporter of the Friends of Development proposal, also asserted that “failure by member states to move forward on these proposals would mean that they have rejected legitimate objectives to increase transparency within WIPO…and to cultivate a development culture within.” According to Giovanetti’s weblog, after Shashikant completed her statement, Giovanetti got up in the plenary session and carried his laptop directly to her to show his reference. The Message Of Civil Society In addition to formal interventions in the plenary session, some civil society organisations planned to further elaborate on their perspective on the WIPO development agenda in additional forums, including a press briefing at U.N. headquarters and a lunch-time briefing for delegates scheduled for the second day of the meeting. Though insufficient turnout led to a cancellation of the lunch event, the press briefing, aimed at highlighting increased civil society participation as a key element of the WIPO development agenda, was attended by about a dozen Geneva journalists. There, a journalist asked about the lack of press participation in WIPO meetings. Journalists have recently raised concerns about accredited non-governmental organisations blogging from within WIPO meetings while press cannot attend. In the briefing, representatives from CIEL, CSC, the Electronic Information for Libraries and TWN highlighted specific proposals they said could facilitate a greater development focus in WIPO’s work. These ideas reflected the Friends of Development proposal and the NGO Group Statement, calling for: implementation of development impact assessments; the creation of a new independent WIPO Research and Evaluation Office to conduct such assessments; adoption of an Access to Knowledge treaty to balance the interests of rights holders and public at large; and greater civil society participation in WIPO policy-making activities. Separately, the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce issued a call for a survey conducted with WIPO to determine the needs of developing country users of the intellectual property system. They proposed a number of measures to improve governments’ ability to reap benefits from that system. All of the non-governmental and industry comments provided to the three IIMs will be forwarded to the WIPO General Assembly for their consideration shortly before its annual meeting in late September. The comments are likely to be considered during the next year, in whichever forum the General Assembly chooses to continue discussion of a development agenda. 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 "Industry, Non-Profits Advise Negotiators On WIPO Development Agenda" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.