What To Look For In A New WIPO Director-General 12/02/2008 by 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) The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors. By Carolyn Deere This week presents a critical opportunity for the 184 member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Wednesday, 13 February is the deadline for WIPO’s membership to submit nominations for the post of WIPO Director General. On 13-14 May, WIPO’s Coordination Committee will be convened in order to review candidates and nominate a person for the post. Assuming the Committee agrees on a candidate, she or he will then be formally appointed following a decision by WIPO’s full membership at the 2008 session of the WIPO General Assembly. WIPO has known only two DGs since it became a UN Agency in 1974. The choice of a new leader matters to all governments and stakeholders because the DG has a central role in shaping the mission, priorities and workplan of the organisation for the next six years and possibly beyond. The search for the new DG must be undertaken with clarity of purpose and criteria. The calibre of candidates must be excellent. The reputation and honour of the United Nations require international civil servants of the highest integrity and the citizens of the world deserve no less. Too often the election of new heads of international organisations is dominated by questions of geographical rotation, political exchanges of support by governments for candidates in other international fora and the jostling for position by insiders. The selection process for the new WIPO DG should be transparent, involving a rigorous review of credentials and interviews. Like the last election of the World Trade Organization DG, the process would be enhanced by adding public hearings for the candidates. This DG selection process comes in a particular political context. Tensions about intellectual property continue to dominate public policy debates on a vast range of topics – including technology transfer and innovation, public health, food security, education, trade, industrial policy, traditional knowledge, biodiversity, the Internet and the creative industries. There is also deepening engagement in IP-related debates by a growing range of stakeholders with a variety of perspectives on the future of the intellectual property system. In addition, the search for a new DG comes amidst the push by developing countries to correct what they argue to be decades of institutional bias that favoured WIPO’s developed country members and the vested interests of IP rights holders. In the search for a new WIPO DG only one question matters: What kind of DG does the world need WIPO to have? Here are six elements we should be looking for in the nominees for a new DG. First, the right nominees will be trusted leaders and listeners who enjoy and command the full support and respect of the diversity of WIPO’s members and stakeholders, particularly those from developing countries and civil society. Second, nominees must be able to articulate a clear vision for the future of WIPO that places the highest priority on a balanced, inclusive and development-oriented IP system. Nominees must be individuals capable of moving beyond what has been and focusing attention on what WIPO should be, do and represent in the coming decades. WIPO’s membership agreed last year upon valuable recommendations regarding a WIPO Development Agenda to ensure the organisation addresses the needs of its full membership and fosters a global IP system that more fairly balances IP protection and the public interest. Nominees for the new Director General must be individuals that WIPO’s members believe can galvanise them, and the diversity of WIPO’s stakeholders, around the common purpose the WIPO Development Agenda provides and to move ahead expeditiously with its implementation. To be right for this job, candidates must have a track record of listening and engaging in multi-stakeholder dialogue, including with staunchest critics most sceptical about the prospects for change. Third, the new DG needs to be a person of high public standing, an individual who exemplifies a concern for public policy goals beyond technocratic discussions of IP norms and administration and the mindless reiteration of the absolute benefits of IP. We need nominees with the personal and professional credibility to convene and participate in debates on the IP system and its relevance to innovation, access to knowledge, development, trade, environment, agriculture and public health. To be worthy of a place among the heads of UN agencies, the new DG must have a demonstrated commitment to addressing the concerns of developing countries, advancing the public interest, and fulfilling the targets set in the UN Millennium Development Goals. He or she must persuade us that they can renew a dialogue with the family of international agencies and intergovernmental processes to identify how WIPO can best contribute to these goals. Fourth, following unresolved and divisive allegations of misconduct, corruption and mismanagement at WIPO, any nominee for the post of DG must be a capable administrator with proven management skills, qualifications and experience. A core task of the new DG will be to form a professional team capable of stewarding an agency with a 1000+ staff and a budget of $550 million through a long-overdue and significant internal overhaul. In the wake of critical independent reviews of international management, staff morale and human resources practices, the new DG must be capable of restoring confidence in financial management, accountability to member states, and the effectiveness of the organisation. The new Director General will be required to make tough decisions about staffing while re-building staff pride, to bring in more diverse and multi-disciplinary staff, and to help members address the issue of user fees. Fifth, the new DG will need to be an agent of change. WIPO’s two former DGs spent most of their careers inside the organisation, immersed in opaque decision-making and a technocratic institutional culture insulated from public debate and scrutiny for many decades. A leader that comes from outside the WIPO system seems most likely to transform that institutional culture and to seize the opportunity to promote change. The new DG must be willing to push for dynamic new approaches to technical assistance, to innovate with respect to relationships with stakeholders, and to facilitate debate on the appropriate governance of the global IP system, including with respect to IP norm-setting. Finally, nominees for the new Director General should be willing to take risks, including by calling for an independent evaluation of WIPO’s governance. Many other international organisations have undertaken such reviews to consider reforms to ensure more accountability, development-orientation and effectiveness. Options that such a review should consider include establishing an Executive Board comprised of WIPO Members to oversee the organisation’s budget and programme and report annually to the General Assemblies. An independent evaluation should also consider options for altering how the distinctive functions now clustered within the WIPO Secretariat are governed, including by delegating responsibility to semi-autonomous units – one for the administration of WIPO treaties, one for research and impact assessment, one for capacity building, and one for independent evaluation. The process of electing a new DG should also spur internal reflections among WIPO member states about what they hope to achieve through WIPO. Oversight of WIPO must not be left to a small technocratic community of IP officials and lawyers urged on by major commercial interests. Intellectual property rules must not be negotiated or implemented in a vacuum. They involve delicate and crucial trade-offs between public goods and private profits. To achieve development-oriented IP reforms at WIPO – and on the ground in countries – all governments must act to build IP policy-making processes, at the international and national level, that engage the full range of relevant national ministries and key non-government stakeholders from industry, civil society and the research community. Dr. Carolyn Deere is director of the Global Trade Governance Project at the Global Economic Governance Programme, University College, Oxford and, among other activities, chair of the board of Intellectual Property Watch. The opinions expressed in this column are strictly her own and do not represent the position of any organisation. She can be contacted at email@example.com. 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 "What To Look For In A New WIPO Director-General" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.