Investigation Finds WIPO Head Repeatedly Misreported His Age 20/02/2007 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 3 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)By William New Over the past 24 years, World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Kamil Idris repeatedly signed official documents showing his birth date to be nine years earlier than it is, and may have moved up the ranks at WIPO based on the error, according to the report of an independent internal WIPO investigation. At least 12 official UN travel and identification documents issued for, and signed by, Idris since 1983 showed his birth date as 26 August 1945, according a copy of the confidential report obtained by Intellectual Property Watch. But Idris moved last year to change WIPO records to show he was actually born on 26 August 1954. The report was prepared by the WIPO Internal Audit and Oversight Division at the request of the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit in June 2006, after press reports that Idris’ age had been changed in the UN system. The report was dated 29 November. It is unclear what, if any, action WIPO member states may take as a result of this report, according to government sources. WIPO declined to comment for this story. The series of erroneous dates began with Idris’ 1982 application for a position at WIPO, the report said. On Idris’ request, WIPO’s records were changed in early 2006, on the grounds that a typographical error had been made. But despite assertions by WIPO that Idris would lose significant pension by fixing the error, the report found the possibility that he could stand to gain from the correction. Idris joined WIPO in 1982 at a relatively senior P4 level of the UN system, in a post that required 10 years of experience. The report of the Internal Audit and Oversight Division found that the application form stated that Idris’ age in the 1982 application was recorded as 26 August 1945. It stated that he held part-time and full-time posts at the national level from 1967-1970. If born in 1954, he would have been aged 13 to 16, the report noted. Two competitors for Idris’ first job were both 37 years old (one short-listed for the job), and the transposed date put Idris at 37 years old also instead of 28 years old. The panel considering candidates at the time stated that all three candidates were 37 years old. “Had Mr. Idris’s 1954 birth date been taken into account, he would have been nine years younger, i.e. 28 years old,” the report said. “As such he would not have fulfilled the general requirement of 10 years of professional experience for a P4 post and, being considerably younger, would have appeared as having considerably less experience, particularly at the international level, than the other short listed candidate.” From the first WIPO job, Idris moved up the organisation ranks to director general on 1 December 1997, with re-election in 2003 until 2009. The report suggests that Idris might have had a harder time reaching the next levels if his unusually young age had been known. Idris told investigators that he was told by the preceding director general that the issue was of low importance, and indicated that he perpetuated it for “consistency.” He also appeared to indicate that questions about his age differences were part of an attack intended to discredit him, the report said. Would Idris Gain From Age Change? Questions were raised last year as to whether Idris would gain in his retirement from correcting the age after so much time, but WIPO issued an email to all WIPO employees, and informed media, that the change “will result in a considerable financial reduction in the pension of the director general,” according to the report. WIPO added that it would not, contrary to reports, result in an extension of the duration of his appointment as director general. That process is decided by member states and the director general post has no age limit, the WIPO secretariat said, according to the report. The report agreed with the secretariat’s calculation of a reduction in pension, but speculated on ways that the reduction could be made up. For instance, if Idris found a way to stay in the employ of WIPO or elsewhere in the UN system for five years after his current term ends in 2009. It also could be partially compensated by a termination indemnity payment if he left for some reason, such as health or unsatisfactory conduct, before 2009. The report also noted a clause proposed to the June 2006 WIPO Coordination Committee which would have provided an indemnity to permanent staff who because of political appointments in the organisation complete their term before the age of retirement. The clause was withdrawn at the start of the meeting by the director general, the report said. Finally, the report said that Idris’ wife and children gained Swiss nationality in February 2004, and said that if he also wanted Swiss nationality, he would have to change his birthdate to align all his documents. Separately, another possible inconsistency is a third variation of Idris’ birthdate which occurred at the University of Ohio, where Idris received a Master of Arts degree, which had his birthdate recorded as 26 August 1953. Idris’ 1982 job application states employment in the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1977 to 1978, at the same time he was studying at University of Ohio (US). According to the report, Idris explained that during this time he studied at Ohio University for about one year and also had short assignments in Khartoum. In later CVs for Idris, these work dates were changed, the report added. Oddly, Idris acknowledged using two different signatures for documents containing the 1945 birthdate and those with the 1954 date, such as his Swiss driver’s licenses, according to the report. UN rules explicitly state the duty of employees to abide by principles of integrity, and to notify “promptly” any change which might affect their status and entitlements under staff regulations, the report said. William New may be reached at wnew (at) ip-watch.ch. 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 "Investigation Finds WIPO Head Repeatedly Misreported His Age" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.