WIPO Development Agenda Talks End With No Agreement For Now 30/06/2006 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)By William New and Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen After two week-long meetings and intensive consultations during the year, talks on bolstering the development perspective of the World Intellectual Property Organization ended today with no agreement, sending proposals back to the UN body’s annual meeting of member states in September. But a continuation of the debate in some form is likely next year, sources said. The WIPO Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA) was established by the 2005 General Assembly with the mission of reviewing proposals and making recommendations. But negotiators could not agree on recommendations after meeting from 20-24 February and 26-30 June. Key development agenda proponents acted to prevent the talks from losing the ambitious scope originally intended in the proposal, they said. “There was no agreement, but also no loss of substance of the development agenda,” a Brazilian official said, adding that there is an agreement that process should proceed. Brazil is a leading proponent of the development agenda. “The development agenda idea is definitely not dead,” an official from a European Union member said. “Both sides are committed to including development in WIPO.” But how the talks will proceed is a critical question to be answered, as larger economies have sought to keep it contained to a single group and specific issues such as technical assistance, rather than a full reform of the organisation. Proponents attempted during the week to steer the discussion toward their draft meeting outcome document put forward at the start of the meeting. But PCDA Chairman Rigoberto Gauto Vielman, the Paraguayan Ambassador to the WTO, said in an interview that informal consultations he held showed some countries, the Group B developed countries in particular, could not accept the proponents’ proposal as a basis for discussion. Some delegations complained that this decision was reached in informal sessions, which are open only to delegations, not non-governmental observers who sit in on the plenary sessions. All WIPO sessions are closed to media. But key developed countries and WIPO secretariat officials characterized the outcome as a lost opportunity brought about by a small group of countries against the larger wishes of the meeting. They said there was support among a majority of WIPO members to accept the chair’s proposal for discussion. Lois Boland of the US Patent and Trademark Office, the lead of the US delegation, issued a press release expressing “disappointment” with the impasse and committing to continuing the effort to improve WIPO’s development work. Gauto Vielman said after the meeting that there was no agreement on which proposals to send to the General Assembly. Instead, reports of the two meetings drafted by the WIPO secretariat, and all of the proposals, will be sent to the assembly. Members will be able to comment on the report in July and a special meeting will be held to approve it immediately prior to the 25 September assembly. Chair’s Proposal Garners Support, But Ignites Impasse On 29 June, Gauto Vielman put forward a draft of proposals on which he saw emerging consensus reflecting the discussion of the first three days of the meeting. But Brazil and Argentina, apparently supported by the other Friends of Development, flatly rejected the chair’s proposal as not sufficiently reflective of their proposals. As there was no agreement to use the chair’s proposal as the basis for negotiations, it died with the committee, Gauto Vielman said. But the chair’s proposal rose from the ashes at the last minute as the Kyrgyz Republic stepped up and presented the chair’s proposal under its own name. “This is the legitimate right of a member of WIPO,” a Kyrgyz official told Intellectual Property Watch, adding that “it was necessary to do so.” Supporters of continuing discussions on the basis of the chair’s proposal included Group B, Central and Eastern European countries, Arab states, some African countries and others, according to participants. On the question of what this outcome meant for the future of the proposed development agenda, the Brazilian official said that the proponent countries “do not accept downsizing of the agenda without a real negotiation.” The official said the chair’s proposal did not reflect convergence but was rather a “process of vetoing,” and “a negative filter” removing unwanted elements. He said if the chair’s proposal had gone through, it would have been a fast-track process with no negotiation but only a “yes-or-no vote.” Brazil and Argentina first proposed reform of WIPO in late 2004 with the intent to make it more development-oriented in all its work, and were joined by 13 other Friends of Development. Since then, their proposals have expanded and other nations have added their own. In the February meeting, 111 proposals were lumped together in thematic groupings or clusters. This week, negotiators went through cluster-by-cluster, signalling those they could support. The chair’s proposal had a high percentage of proposals from Group B countries, according to an analysis by some NGOs attending the meeting. The official from the Kyrgyz Republic, which held the meeting vice-chair, said his government had “great concern” after the chair’s proposal met with resistance. “An overwhelming majority of member states supported the proposal,” he said. But the Brazilian official said that it was actually better that the proposal was forwarded by a country and not by the chair as it would now be on the same level as the other proposals, such as the one from the Friends of Development group. The Friends of Development include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Kenya, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uruguay and Venezuela. 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