NGOs Having Major Impact On WIPO Agenda, Panel Says 05/10/2007 by Paul Garwood for 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 Paul Garwood Non-governmental organisations have been able to influence the debate and priorities within the World Intellectual Property Organization and make IP issues more understood in the developing world, speakers at a seminar in Geneva said Monday. Wend Wendland, head of WIPO’s programme on traditional knowledge, which began in 1998, said civil society had been a major player in enhancing the organisation’s focus on “new beneficiaries” of the intellectual property system. Groups representing the rights of indigenous peoples to control their intellectual property, such as folklore and traditional medicines, have become integral components of the WIPO traditional knowledge programme, participating in committees to set agendas and raise issues. “Involvement of new beneficiaries has been critical to the programme and we needed to provide access to them,” Wendland said. “Once they were inside the process we had to make sure they can participate directly and they can influence the process.” Seminar hosts, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), used the event to announce the launch of its new publication, “A Citizen’s Guide to WIPO,” which provides civil society groups and individuals with practical details on navigating the complex UN agency. Available at www.ciel.org, the 60-page guide covers WIPO’s involvement in areas such as health, food security, biodiversity, and access to knowledge, as well as influence in and the structure of the organisation. Dalindyebo Shabalala, director of CIEL’s intellectual property and sustainable development project, said civil society had played a crucial role in shifting WIPO’s focus and creating its Development Agenda, a list of 45 proposals that was approved last week which will enhance the development orientation across the UN’s agency’s activities. (IPW, WIPO, 29 September 2007). “Civil society has been integral to the achievement of the development agenda at WIPO, but its functions and structure continue to limit civil society involvement,” Shabalala said. “This guide is designed to provide clear information on the functioning of WIPO and to make it a less intimidating area in which to operate.” Nick Ashton-Hart, a consultant with expertise in forging networks of NGOs to support issues, said a critical factor in the success of any coalition is ensuring the myriad players adhered to the same message. Ashton-Hart was a key player in attracting hundreds of NGOs, civil society groups and companies into a coalition that participated in the debate surrounding the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty within the UN agency’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. The group opposed the treaty as proposed and contributed to its collapse earlier this year. “The coalition was easy to keep together because we kept the messages very simple and used practical examples,” Ashton-Hart said during the seminar. “And we kept the same messages and themes all the way through, which made it easier for groups to work together on the same idea.” Duncan Matthews, a reader in IP law at the Queen Mary University of London School of Law, told the seminar that NGOs had a critical role to play in representing the interests of developing countries, a relationship that he added could sometimes be problematic. “There has been the concern that NGOs had been focussing on the larger developing countries delegations (to international bodies) and some of the smaller country delegations felt their delegations had been listened to,” he said. Matthews published a study on NGOs and international organisations in 2006 (IPW, Technical Cooperation/Technology Transfer, 17 January 2007). NGOs, he added, could increase their effectiveness through a “greater use of evidence-based arguments” and capacity building on processes inside WIPO and the World Trade Organization with indigenous groups and social movements that they try to represent. Paul Garwood may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 "NGOs Having Major Impact On WIPO Agenda, Panel Says" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.