Countries Get Set For Second WIPO Development Agenda Meeting 08/06/2007 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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 Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen with William New Members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are gearing up for the second and final meeting next week of a committee addressing proposals to increase the development orientation of WIPO’s mandate. A preparatory meeting in Singapore and several non-papers have set the stage for a key undertaking by the United Nations body. The Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA) will meet from 11 to 15 June. The issue has been addressed in high-level WIPO meetings since the initial proposal for a WIPO Development Agenda was put forward in late 2004 by a group of countries now called the Friends of Development. The first special session took place in February, before which the WIPO General Assembly chair, Philippines Ambassador Enrique Manalo, prepared a working document with a matrix outlining and clustering 111 proposals from different countries. This paper will remain the starting point for this meeting (for this paper, see IPW, WTO, 16 February 2007). The chair’s paper divided all proposals into Annex A and B, with the first containing some 40 that were dealt with at the first meeting, and the second 71 proposals, which will be the focus of this meeting. The remaining proposals are generally seen as more difficult to reach agreement on. Members have already started work on considering how these 71 proposals may be narrowed down, with several suggestions being considered at an informal meeting in Singapore on 30 May and 1 June. The Friends of Development circulated a non-paper narrowing the list to 24 proposals (IPW, WIPO, 28 May 2007) and the African Group prepared a non-paper with 23 proposals. A non-paper from Group B of developed countries at WIPO, containing five paragraphs on the cluster of proposals involving “institutional matters including mandate and governance,” also was reviewed in Singapore. In addition, Colombia has a paper reflecting a reservation it made in February to agreement reached favouring protection of the public domain, which Colombia wanted to restrict through a stronger balance with the rights of rightsholders. It now refers to this subject in the paper (PCDA/4/2) dated 24 May 2007. The Singapore meeting was informal, with no commitments, and two new informal documents emerged from the meeting, though not reflecting consensus or agreement as there was no outcome paper from the meeting. There were 57 participants from 40 countries at the meeting, according to a government source. The event was similar to a pre-event meeting in India before the February PCDA meeting (IPW, WIPO, 20 February 2007). Former WIPO Deputy Director General Geoffrey Yu, a Singaporean official, chaired the meeting on behalf of the host. To read the paper, see: Singapore Non-paper Also, see: Singapore seven-point paper. One Singapore non-paper merged proposals in Annex B and indicated when its “proposed streamlined proposals” or “proposed consolidation/rewording” include one or more proposals from the three non-papers. This non-paper mainly deals with the Friends of Development and African proposals. For 15 of the 40 proposals, it combines ideas from both papers, which shows where they may overlap on the 71 PCDA proposals. For example, one of the proposed streamlined proposals says: “To ensure that technical assistance provided to developing and least developed countries includes assistance pertaining to the implementation, taking into account national needs and requirements, of the flexibilities under TRIPS, as well as pro-development provisions of TRIPS.” TRIPS is the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Another proposal in the non-paper suggests WIPO adopt an internationally binding instrument for the protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge “in the nearest future,” and to amend the WIPO Convention, “bringing it in line with WIPO’s mandate as an UN-specialised agency.” Proposals omitted from new non-papers could be considered dropped from this process, a source said, although nothing has been agreed to yet and issues could be re-introduced. The papers are thus a starting negotiating point for the various groups, the source said. The African proposal emphasises the issue of technology transfer, which is dealt with in the “technical assistance and capacity building” cluster, and in the “assessment, evaluation and impact studies” section, where it has detailed ideas for how it could be improved at WIPO. The paper suggests WIPO studies on this as well as counterfeiting and piracy, and supports the notion of an “Evaluation and Research Office” at WIPO. The African paper also emphasises a need for a balance between costs and benefits of IP and says the development-related aspects of TRIPS should be examined by WIPO in relation to technical assistance provided to developing countries. Finally, it calls for a “robust public domain.” WTO Procedural Model Applied Separately, the Singapore meeting went beyond the proposals to consider what should follow the agreement of proposals, the source said. The June meeting is mandated to try to agree on a set of proposals from Annex B, and send these as well as the package agreed to in February to the September/October WIPO General Assembly. There appears to be general agreement that the February package is not to be re-opened in detail at the June meeting. The other non-paper from the Singapore meeting, which has seven points, suggests that the proposals could be in three categories: for implementation, for further discussion and modification, and for longer-term reflection, it said. The scope and duration of work (for instance, one or two years more) of the Development Agenda discussion and the frequency of meetings is also highlighted for consideration, as are monitoring and review mechanisms and financial and human resource implications, according to the non-paper. PCDA Chair Trevor Clarke, the Barbados ambassador, met this week with WIPO regional coordinators. At the February meeting, Clarke was praised for his outcome-focused approach – which many attributed to his experience from the WTO – by dividing the work among the coordinators of the WIPO regional groups. In February, the coordinators were each put in charge of a cluster and held individual consultations before finally presented a draft to Clarke. This approach would be applied to this meeting as well, a source said, with the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries in charge of cluster A, the African Group cluster B, the Asian group in charge of cluster C, the Central European and Baltic States cluster D, Group B cluster E, and the Group of Caucasian, Central Asian and Eastern European Countries, led by Russia, cluster F. Side-events Several events are being planned alongside the negotiations during the week. On 12 June, the intergovernmental South Centre will hold an event entitled, “Do Higher Standards of Patent Protection under TRIPS Generate a Positive Impact on the Pharmaceutical Industry in developing Countries?” Panellists include Xuan Li, lead economist and acting coordinator of the centre’s Innovation and Access to Knowledge Programme; Carsten Fink, senior economist at the World Bank; and Christoph Spennemann, legal expert in technology transfer and intellectual property at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Focus will be on a comparative study of China and India. On 13 June, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) will host a roundtable entitled “Implementing the WIPO Development Agenda: Comparing National Approaches to Promoting Coherence between Public Policy Objectives and IP Laws” that will examine both developed and developing country experiences in implementing IP laws and policies at the national and regional levels and extract lessons-learned for improved interactions between WIPO and governments. Roundtable participants will include developed and developing country officials from foreign affairs ministries, and regional and national IP offices. In advance of the meeting, ICTSD also issued a working paper on, “Essential Elements of a WIPO Development Agenda, What Could Constitute Success?” jointly written by Ron Marchant and Sisule Musungu. Tove Gerhardsen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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