Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (May13/01)
16 May 2013
Third World Network
friends and colleagues,
The issue of transparency of certain activities of the World Intellectual
Property Organisation (WIPO) has come up at the 11th session of the
Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), which is
taking place on 13-17 May 2013 in Geneva.
the first day of the meeting (13 May), developing countries demanded
that Member States should be informed on the content of WIPO's engagement
with the United Nations post-2015 Development Agenda process. They
also want an independent evaluation of the technical assistance on
legislative advice that WIPO provides to Member States.
is an article that was first published in SUNS #7584 Wednesday 15
Third World Network
Developing countries demand transparency
Published in SUNS #7584 dated 15 May 2013
14 May (K. M. Gopakumar) -- Developing countries are demanding transparency
in the activities of the World Intellectual Property Organisation
The issue of transparency came up on the first day of the 11th session
of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP),
which is taking place on 13-17 May 2013 in Geneva.
Developing countries demanded that Member States should be informed
on the content of WIPO's interventions in the United Nations post-2015
Development Agenda process. They also want an independent evaluation
of the technical assistance on legislative advice that WIPO provides
to Member States.
[The CDIP was established through a decision of the WIPO General Assembly
in 2007. It is tasked to develop a work programme for implementation
of the 45 adopted Development Agenda recommendations; coordinate relevant
WIPO bodies to monitor, assess, discuss and report on the implementation
of all those recommendations and discuss IP and development-related
issues as agreed by the CDIP, as well as those decided by the General
Assembly. See SUNS #6335 dated 2 October 2007.]
The demand for transparency in the substance of WIPO's message in
the UN post-2015 development agenda process emerged in the light of
past experience from the process of the June 2012 UN Conference on
During the Rio+20 process, the WIPO Secretariat expressed only one
side of the views of patents by highlighting the positive contribution
of patents to sustainable development, without mentioning the negative
implications of patents on sustainable development such as patent
protection as a barrier to technology transfer.
The WIPO Secretariat is also known to have provided technical assistance
to Member States to draft IP laws (legislative assistance) in an unbalanced
manner, without providing any public interest safeguards such as robust
compulsory license provisions or exceptions to patent protection.
The issue of transparency came up while Member States were considering
the Director-General's Report on the Implementation of the Development
Agenda (DG Report, CDIP/11/2). The lack of consensus with regard to
the mechanism to ensure transparency in WIPO's engagement in the UN
post-2015 Development Agenda process resulted in a stalemate with
regard to the adoption of the DG Report.
[This document contains two parts. Part I mentions the key highlights
in the implementation of and mainstreaming of the WIPO Development
Agenda and lists the activities carried out by WIPO to implement the
recommendations. Part II focuses on key developments in the implementation
of Development Agenda projects. Further, Annex I to the document provides
an overview of the status of implementation of the Development Agenda
recommendations and Annex II gives an overview of the Development
Agenda projects that have been approved by the Committee.]
The lack of consensus emerged when Group B, a developed country group,
rejected the offer of the Secretariat to hold briefings on WIPO's
engagement in the post-2015 Development Agenda process, which was
earlier accepted by developing countries.
Group B wanted to remove any reference to hold briefings from the
summary statement prepared by the Secretariat, which would be part
of the Summary of the Chair reflecting decisions and other outcomes
of WIPO committee meetings.
POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA ENGAGEMENT
The demand for transparency in the WIPO Secretariat's engagement on
the post-2015 process came up during the deliberations on the DG Report
that revealed WIPO's participation in the Millennium Development Goals
(MDG) Gap Task Force and UNDP MDG Taskforce.
Further, the report also discloses the Secretariat's participation
in the UN interagency process on the post-2015 process, the Rio+20
conference, and the preparations for the UN Economic and Social Council
(ECOSOC) substantive session in 2013. In addition, WIPO became a member
of the UN System Task Team (UNTT) on the post-2015 process.
The response of developing countries came in two stages. Initial remarks
were made while responding to the DG Report. More focused interventions
were made in response to the explanation of the Secretariat.
Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the involvement
of WIPO in the MDG Gap Task Force and its contributions to the discussion
on access to medicines and IP in the MDG Gap Task Force, as well as
WIPO's involvement in the Rio+20 process, and other UN mechanisms.
However, the African Group sought further "clarity on the consultative
process that is being followed by the Secretariat to get a clear mandate
from WIPO's Member States to participate in those mechanisms".
Further, the Group demanded, "the Secretariat should express
the view of all the Members and spread out a balanced IP system".
India expressed the same concern and stated that the Asian Group would
like to hear more from the perspectives shared by the Secretariat
in a forum like the MDG Gap Taskforce discussions on access to essential
medicines as well as the post-2015 Development Framework.
South Africa stated that there is a need for more concrete information
regarding the nature of contributions made in deliberations of the
MDG Gap Taskforce. South Africa also enquired how the Secretariat
is contributing to the post-2015 Development Framework process.
In response to the abovementioned remarks, the Deputy Director-General
stated that the Secretariat can provide a more detailed account of
the engagement of WIPO in the next report of the DG.
Further, the Director of WIPO's External Office in New York narrated
the recent participation of the Secretariat in the MDG Gap Task Force,
collaboration with ECOSOC including the follow-up of the Rio+20 process
on science and technology aspects. The External Office also informed
the CDIP about its intervention during the panel convened by the President
of the UN General Assembly on the political process on sustainable
In response to the explanation of the Secretariat, the African Group
stated that it is important to know the mandate of the Secretariat
in participating in these deliberations. It also stated that the participation
of the Secretariat should be guided by the Member States. In addition,
the African Group stressed that the Secretariat should inform Member
States about its engagements in such forums.
Pakistan expressed the same concern and sought information on the
precise role of the WIPO External Office in the sustainable development
goals process. It also asked about the nature of the contribution
of WIPO to the discussion on the MDGs.
(The Rio+20 conference mandated the UN General Assembly to establish
an Open Working Group to formulate sustainable development goals.)
Bolivia said that the question is not on the participation of the
Secretariat in UN processes but on the substance, nature and manner
of participation. Bolivia added that it would like to know the exact
nature of the participation.
It further mentioned that the concern is coming from the fact that
during the Rio+20 process, WIPO spoke only of the positive aspects
of IP and was silent on the implications of IP on technology transfer.
It sought balance in the approach of WIPO and demanded that WIPO should
reflect the diverse views of Member States.
Reflecting the same sentiments, Pakistan said the issue is not the
participation of the Secretariat but the concern is on the substance
mentioned during these consultations.
Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, stated that positions on
key issues are divergent and therefore we should know the details
of the message.
India aligned with the concern expressed by Algeria, Pakistan and
Bolivia and stated that the content needs to be communicated to Member
Belgium, on behalf of Group B, opposed the Secretariat's offer to
hold briefings on WIPO's engagements in the UN post-2015 Development
Framework process, stating that it would not like to micromanage the
LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANCE AND COUNTRY PLANS
The DG Report stated: "The Organization continued to provide
legislative assistance to the developing and least developed countries
throughout the year. Such advice was development-oriented, balanced
and tailored to unique Member State requests, in accordance with the
Development Agenda principles and bearing in mind the applicable flexibilities
relevant to countries at differing levels of development. ... In delivering
this service, the WIPO Secretariat followed the principle of neutrality
and complied with the duty of confidentiality".
Regarding the country plan issue, the DG Report stated: "The
Regional Bureaus of the WIPO Development Sector have undergone a process
of close consultation with Member States to develop Country Plans,
and these Plans have been finalized for a number of countries in each
region, with a view to putting in place an integrated and comprehensive
development assistance framework".
Responding to this assertion in the DG Report, Brazil, on behalf of
the Development Agenda Group (DAG), stated: "This is a very sensitive
and important issue for the Development Agenda and there is no broader
evaluation on the legislative assistance activities carried out by
WIPO. It is time to consider the possibility of having an independent
evaluation on this specific type of technical assistance".
Regarding country plans, the DAG stated that: "Since this is
one of the key elements of the Development Agenda and there is a discussion
under this Committee on the review of the technical assistance provided
by WIPO, the DAG would appreciate that the Secretariat prepare an
information document for the next session of the CDIP reporting, with
more details, on how the ‘country plans' are being implemented. The
report should include information on the countries for which Country
Plans have been developed, the process followed in developing these
Country Plans, and also present the template of development assistance
framework. This would enable a comprehensive assessment of how far
these frameworks are development oriented."
Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, remarked that: "The
report also asserts that development oriented and tailored legislative
assistance was provided to developing countries and LDCs, bearing
in mind flexibilities relevant to countries at different levels of
development. However, this is a mere self-certification and there
is need for an independent evaluation of WIPO's legislative assistance.
Also, the reform of national IP plans and technical assistance in
accordance with recommendations is not addressed by report".
On country plans, the African Group said that, "We do welcome
such an initiative and would like the Secretariat to provide further
information about the Countries, the process followed in developing
these Country Plans. This would enable a comprehensive assessment
of how far these frameworks are development oriented."
Pakistan also expressed its concern and said that details of legislative
assistance are required.
The United States expressed its disagreement on the demand on transparency
in country IP plans and legislative assistance. It stated that Member
States are sovereign and legislative assistance are demand-driven,
and therefore should not be made public.
Switzerland also shared the position on these issues and asked for
the maintenance of confidentiality.
The Secretariat stated that the template on national IP Plans is already
in the public domain and more information can be made available on
the ongoing process between the Secretariat and each Member State.
Regarding the legislative assistance, the Secretariat stated that
the Secretariat alone cannot reveal the information unless the country
itself wants to make the legislative assistance public.
In response to the Secretariat response, Brazil stated that WIPO should
not presuppose confidentiality.
Pakistan, sharing the same concern with Brazil, stated that the confidentiality
should be maintained only when there is an explicit request from Member
Belgium, on behalf of Group B, stated that it is up to each country
to decide whether the country plans be made available in public.
The 11th session of the CDIP is to discuss other important issues
viz. the joint proposal of the DAG and African Group on WIPO's technical
assistance based on the findings of the external review, independent
review of implementation of DA (Development Agenda) recommendations,
including the pre-eminent agenda item on IP and development in CDIP
and modalities of the coordination, monitoring, assessing and reporting
mechanism for the DA.