Gathering Looks At Governance Of WIPO, IP, In Multilateral Fora 16/03/2015 by Elena Bourtchouladze 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)On 5 March, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in collaboration with Oxford University’s Global Economic Governance Programme (GEG) hosted an event in Geneva to discuss challenges and issues in intellectual property governance. Stressing the importance for multilateral frameworks for governing IP, such as the World Trade Organization and World Intellectual Property Organization, to keep abreast with the rapidly changing global innovation and intellectual property landscape, participants discussed some key challenges and priorities for action, as well as processes and resources to advance discussions on this issue. Participants, in their personal capacity, included experts from international organisations, individual governments and academics. In the first part, Carolyn Deere Birkbeck introduced the topic “WIPO Governance: State of play and future directions” and her working paper on “The Governance of WIPO: A Reference Guide”. Explaining why WIPO’s governance matters, the speaker reviewed WIPO’s complex governance system and the evolution it has undergone. She referred to various WIPO member states’ formal and informal proposals for WIPO governance changes and institutional reforms, including an African Group proposal and a proposal by Belgium, Mexico and Spain. Deere also noted the 2014 United Nations Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) report, which recommended that the WIPO General Assembly should review the WIPO governance framework and current practices with a view to strengthen the capacity of the governing bodies to guide and monitor the work of the Organization. She gave examples of governance challenges and opportunities tabled by the JIU report, WIPO member states and stakeholders. Deere observed that calls have been made for: efficient, transparent and fair norm-setting processes; improving accountability and member state control of the WIPO Secretariat; mainstreaming development through WIPO’s governance system; improving links to other intergovernmental organisations and the UN system; transparent financial arrangements, and more balanced stakeholder participation. During the roundtable discussion, participants raised various concerns and offered suggestions in relation to WIPO governance. Participants exchanged views on how best to approach governance challenges, with broad acknowledgement of the problems facing decision-making processes at WIPO. Several participants noted that at the heart of stand-offs on substantive issues were political differences as well as fear, suspicion and a lack of trust. Some argued that improved governance could be a vital vehicle for bolstering trust and addressing political differences, while others cautioned that discussion of major governance matters may divert the energy and time of delegates from more modest, but achievable, governance improvements. Participants stressed the importance of regional groups as a vehicle for consultations with the Secretariat, but debated whether such groups constituted a sufficient tool for building consensus across the many topics under discussion at WIPO. Suggestions included clarification of the role of regional groups in WIPO’s governance system and consultation processes, reflection on how regional groups conduct their business, and alternative options such as greater use of issue-based or thematic ‘caucuses’ of countries. Some participants advanced the view that a priority should be on using existing governance structures in a more efficient way, or to transform and streamline existing ones. Participants also observed the need for greater space for political dialogue and deliberation on contentious and strategic issues facing the organisation within the various decision-making structures of WIPO. The second part of the event addressed the relationship between WIPO and WTO, on the one hand, and other multilateral fora, such as the World Health Organization, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and UN Conference on Trade and Development, on the other, where IP discussions and activities also take place. In his remarks to open the discussion, ICTSD’s Ahmed Abdel-Latif noted that these relationships add an additional level of complexity and challenges in terms of the pursuit of coherence in global IP governance. Abdel-Latif observed that the search for coherence has two aspects – how to address the overlap and interactions of issues discussed by member states in the various multilateral fora and how to strengthen cooperation between secretariats of relevant multilateral organisations. By way of examples of IP issues that emerge across different fora, Abdel-Latif mentioned several instruments that address both aspects. These include the Preamble of the TRIPS Agreement on the relationship between WIPO and WTO; Recommendation 40 of the WIPO Development Agenda; the World Health Organization Global Strategy; the 1995 Agreement between WIPO and the WTO; and WTO, WHO and WIPO trilateral cooperation on public health, IP and trade. Discussion among participants highlighted lack of coordination at three levels – at the level of the secretariats of international organisations, at the level of diplomatic missions in Geneva, and at the domestic level among the range of relevant government agencies and stakeholders – and stressed the importance of domestic coordination to tackle the issue of coherence. A further proposal of a tool for improving coherence was for the relevant secretariats of international organisations to provide joint briefings and information sessions on their work. Elena Bourtchouladze (LLB, DEA) holds a PhD degree in Public International Law from the Graduate Institute (Geneva) with focus on the WTO TRIPS Agreement and WIPO Conventions. She is a researcher at IP-Watch, and has experience in regulatory and litigation at a multinational company and an international organisation. 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 Elena Bourtchouladze may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Gathering Looks At Governance Of WIPO, IP, In Multilateral Fora" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.