TWN Info Service on
WTO and Trade Issues (Feb06/15)
"Friends of Development" Group propose way forward for WIPO
15 developing countries under the umbrella of The Group of Friends of Development (FOD) have submitted a paper for a WIPO meeting starting Monday (20February), outlining proposals on how to attain concrete results towards establishing a Development Agenda for WIPO.
The FOD - prepared their paper "Establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO: Framework for Achieving Concrete and Practical Results in the Near and Longer Term" for the meeting of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA).
The FOD paper stresses the need for the meeting to be structured to enable the PCDA to come up with concrete and practical results by the end of its second session. This would be consistent with the mandate given by the General Assembly to the Provisional Committee "to accelerate and complete the discussions on proposals relating to a WIPO Development Agenda and report with any recommendations to the General Assembly at its September 2006 session."
Below is a detailed report of the FOD paper.
Geneva, 17 Feb 2006: By Sangeeta Shashikant (TWN)
The FOD - comprising Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Kenya, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uruguay and Venezuela - prepared their paper "Establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO: Framework for Achieving Concrete and Practical Results in the Near and Longer Term" for the meeting of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA).
The FOD paper stresses the need for the meeting to be structured to enable the PCDA to come up with concrete and practical results by the end of its second session. This would be consistent with the mandate given by the General Assembly to the Provisional Committee "to accelerate and complete the discussions on proposals relating to a WIPO Development Agenda and report with any recommendations to the General Assembly at its September
The paper notes that Members have different positions and ideas on different issues but there are common threads uniting all the proposals. It synthesizes the proposals into five (5) core issues or questions which need to be answered for WIPO to address global development challenges.
The Provisional Committee can arrive at concrete recommendations for immediate action by the next General Assembly in the framework of an effective and cross-cutting Program of Work for the short, medium and long terms for the establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO, that shall not undermine the integral and holistic nature of the WIPO Development Agenda as put forth by proponent Member States.
The paper says that in practice progress has already been made with regard to a number of proposals, for example, in ensuring wider participation by public interest groups in WIPO discussions. There was also unequivocal agreement by all Members that WIPO, as a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN), had the responsibility to promote development as an integral part of its programme.
Some of the proposals are being tested already, thereby demonstrating the willingness of the General Assembly to take up these issues and give them practical expression. It gives the example of the proposal for holding public hearings prior to the initiation of any norm-setting activities is being applied.
It refers to the process on the draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) that is before the Standing Committee on Law of Patents (SCP) wherein the GA has decided that before considering how to proceed on the question of the SPLT, there should first be an open forum bringing together a variety of stakeholders to discuss a variety of issues.
The paper identifies key issues which run through most proposals and synthesizes them into "five (5) core issues or questions which need to be answered in order to position WIPO to contribute fully and meaningfully to addressing the global development challenges." The core issues are:
1. What should be the new procedural and substantive approaches to WIPO norm-setting activities to ensure that:
(a) norm-setting priorities reflect the priorities of all WIPO Members, in particular, that the priorities reflect the interests of both developed and developing countries;
(b) the objectives and issues to be addressed in each proposed treaty or norms are set based on the views of all stakeholders, with special emphasis on participation by public interest groups;
( c) before commencing norm-setting activities potential impacts, especially development impacts are analysed and the potential costs, especially for developing countries, are evaluated by means of strengthened member-driven evaluation, study and research mechanisms;
(d) WIPO treaties and norms reflect the profound factual economic and social differences among WIPO Members;
(e) once treaties are adopted, there is a system, overseen by Member states, to ensure continuous objective evaluation of the actual impact and costs, especially for developing countries?
2. What member-driven mechanisms, procedures or rules are necessary to enable WIPO undertake independent and objective research and studies as well as evaluation, including evaluation of development impacts of intellectual property rules?
3. Technical assistance and development cooperation activities of WIPO are important areas of the organisation's work programme and an area of particular interest to many developing countries and especially LDCs. In this regard, in what practical and concrete ways can the technical assistance activities be strengthened to ensure:
(a) increased impact and continued relevance and usefulness to recipient countries in a changing world; (b) improved availability and sharing of information on these activities; ( c) the protection of the integrity and credibility of the programmes; and (d) continuous evaluation and impact assessment including development impacts?
4. Considering that WIPO has a constitutional mandate, by virtue of the Agreement with the UN, to facilitate transfer of technology, what measures are needed within the organisation to address transfer of technology issues, including related competition policies and the facilitation of the transfer of essential technologies to developing countries?
5. Considering the growing importance of access to knowledge, of protecting and promoting access to the cultural heritage of peoples, countries and humanity, and the need to maintain a robust public domain through norm-setting activities and enforcement of exceptions and limitations to intellectual property rights, what measures are needed within WIPO to: (a) facilitate access to knowledge generally around the world and specifically in developing countries for example by means of a Treaty on Access to Knowledge; and (b) maintain and build a robust public domain in all WIPO Member States and other countries?
6. Recognizing that WIPO is an integral part of the UN System and, as such, is committed to promoting the cause of development within the broad UN framework, thereby ensuring that developing countries will be provided with policy space commensurate with their national development needs and requirements, what measures will be taken to review WIPO treaties and conventions under the guise of the Development Agenda?
The FOD paper then proposes the way forward. It reiterates that the aim of the discussion on a WIPO development agenda is "integrating the development dimension in WIPO broadly".
It also states that "a key priority for the Provisional Committee is to organise its work in a manner that ensures concrete and practical results" and concrete recommendations for action. It proposes that all proposals are given equal treatment and consideration; and by 30 June 2006, the Provisional Committee should arrive at concrete and practical recommendations so that the General Assembly at its September 2006 session can take decisions to integrate the development dimension in WIPO broadly.
It stressed that the Committee will have to structure and rationalize its work. It should set up an effective and cross-cutting Program of Work on the establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO for the short, medium and long terms. However, the paper states that "the prioritization and organization of issues under different possible time-frames shall not undermine the integral and holistic nature of a WIPO Development Agenda as put forth by proponent Member States".
For the short term, the Provisional Committee should arrive at some concrete recommendations for immediate action by the next General-Assembly. For the medium and long terms, the Committee should agree on actions requiring a longer and more in-depth discussion among Member States.
With regard to the long and medium terms, one must consider whether those proposals which are not addressed in the context of the short term process should be referred to the General Assembly or other competent WIPO bodies, or possibly to a new body created specifically for the purpose of addressing those proposals.