Panel Reminds WIPO Of UN Mandate; Call For Independent Evaluation 30/04/2009 by Catherine Saez, 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)The World Intellectual Property Organization should infuse its United Nations mandate and other aspects of the WIPO Development Agenda into all its norm-setting activities, panellists said this week. The comments came at a 28 April side event to the 27 April – 1 May WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP). The Development Agenda approved by WIPO members in 2007 contains 45 recommendations, which the CDIP is working to implement. Recommendation 22 provides a list of issues to be taken into account in WIPO’s norm-setting activities so that they support development goals. It states: “WIPO’s norm-setting activities should be supportive of the development goals agreed within the United Nations system, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration. The WIPO secretariat, without prejudice to the outcome of member states considerations, should address in its working documents for norm-setting activities, as appropriate and as directed by member states, issues such as: (a) safeguarding national implementation of intellectual property rules (b) links between intellectual property and competition (c) intellectual property-related transfer of technology (d) potential flexibilities, exceptions and limitations for member states and (e) the possibility of additional special provisions for developing countries and LDCs.” The side event organised by the South Centre Innovation and Access to Knowledge Programme aimed at contributing to the discussion of the third CDIP session. For Cristiano Berbert of the Permanent Mission of Brazil, the roots of recommendation 22 go back to 2002, when, he said, “attempts to bypass delegates by convening meetings out of Geneva at short notice” was a strategy deployed on certain occasions. He was referring, among other things, to an invite-only consultation in 2005 in Casablanca, Morocco, on patent harmonisation. At that consultation convened by the WIPO director general some members said WIPO was not authorised to conduct substantive discussions without full membership attendance (IPW, WIPO, 4 July 2005). According to Berbert, the Brazilian delegate present at Casablanca added a footnote to the proposed agreement to dissociate himself from the text. The proposal resulting from the Casablanca consultation was later overturned. Developing countries felt that they had a rather limited capacity to influence the norm-setting activities, he said. Recommendation 22 changes the standard WIPO approach, Berbert said, giving the opportunity to developing countries to safeguard national policy space. Developing countries had grown weary of having to adopt national intellectual property laws without knowing their effects on development, and on the public’s access to goods and services such as food, water, electricity or medicine. The Development Agenda has changed the way the WIPO secretariat works, and changed the way member states have been working, said Asi Assad Giliani from the Permanent Mission of Pakistan. “It has put us in a place where we are negotiating the future, and this is how things should be”, he said. Mohamed Gad of the Permanent Mission of Egypt said that one of WIPO’s constitutional mandates was to deliver the UN agenda, and that recommendation 22 was a “cornerstone” of the Development Agenda. “It is a long lost link between WIPO and the UN,” he said, adding “we need to ensure that development priorities are integrated into WIPO’s work.” Norm-settings activities do not only take place in the standing committees and in the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, Gad said. Areas such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty are norm-setting instruments too, he said. WIPO should be geared towards the UN Millennium Development Goals which aims at ending poverty by 2015 and adopt a long-term plan, said Gad, adding that he had never heard how WIPO is planning to contribute to achieving these goals. WIPO in Need of Independent Critical Evaluation Meanwhile, officials said WIPO needs to be evaluated neutrally on its development activities. “We believe that in an organisation with such diverse membership” and especially when addressing development issues, “there must be independent critical evaluations,” said Gad. Meetings should include both controversial and orthodox views and until they do “nobody can take these meetings seriously.” Member states have a vital role to play in making sure the recommendations are followed, said Giliani. They should highlight or identify activities that need to be undertaken by each WIPO committee based on the principles of the Development Agenda and the performance of each committee should be evaluated based on these recommendations. Committee chairs should then report on the work of each committee to the director general. All WIPO reports should take into account the five elements for recommendation 22, Giliani said. “There are plenty of experts, academics, activists, who have crystal clear notions on intellectual property, and they should be brought into WIPO in order for the organisation to develop a legitimacy of discussing these issues,” said Gad. “So far WIPO has not yet engaged in this process of capturing the different views.” He suggested that the CDIP meetings be webcasted so that stakeholders could access the information as some stakeholders might not have the means to be present in Geneva. Giliani supported a proposal by WIPO to create a global forum on intellectual property and development but warned that the forum would need very focussed discussions. “We need to address the real challenges, like access to medicine or education, and identify the gaps and how the IP system can be effectively utilised to fill those gaps,” he said. 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 Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Panel Reminds WIPO Of UN Mandate; Call For Independent Evaluation" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.