BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER

TWN Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (May13/01)
16 May 2013
Third World Network  


Dear 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.

On 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.

Below is an article that was first published in SUNS #7584 Wednesday 15 May 2013.

With best wishes,
Third World Network


WIPO: Developing countries demand transparency
Published in SUNS #7584 dated 15 May 2013

Geneva, 14 May (K. M. Gopakumar) -- Developing countries are demanding transparency in the activities of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

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 Sustainable Development
(Rio+20).

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 development.

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 States.

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 Secretariat.

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 States.

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.

 


BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER