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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct07/07)

10 October 2007


WIPO General Assembly adopts Development Agenda proposals

After 3 years of often tense deliberations, the WIPO General Assembly agreed to establish a Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) and to adopt 45 proposals for action to mainstream development into WIPO activities.

Of the 45 proposals adopted, 19 have been identified as "early implementation proposals" to be implemented immediately by WIPO.

The WIPO decision, adopted on 28 September, was a milestone in the "Development Agenda initiative" spearheaded by a group of developing countries.

Below is a report which was published in the SUNS on 2 October.  It is reproduced here with the permission of the South North Development Monitor (SUNS).  Any reproduction or re-circulation requires the prior permission of SUNS (sunstwn@bluewin.ch).

Best wishes
Martin Khor
TWN


WIPO General Assembly adopts Development Agenda proposals
Published in SUNS #6335 dated 2 October 2007 
Geneva, 1 Oct 2007:  By (Sangeeta Shashikant (TWN)

After 3 years of extensive and often tense deliberations, the WIPO General Assemblies (GA) has agreed to establish a Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) and to adopt 45 proposals for action to mainstream development into WIPO activities.

Of the 45 proposals adopted, 19 have been identified as "early implementation proposals" to be implemented immediately by WIPO after the approval by the General Assemblies. All the proposals are in the WIPO document A/43/13 Rev. dated 17 September 2007.

The WIPO decision, adopted last Friday, was a milestone in the "Development Agenda initiative" spearheaded by a group of developing countries known as Group of Friends of Development (coordinated by Argentina) and supported by many other developing countries.

Brazil called the adoption of the decision a "historic" moment for WIPO. Chile said that the adoption of the Development Agenda (DA) proposals is "one of the most important events that has happened in WIPO".

Algeria, on behalf of the Africa Group, welcomed the positive results and said that the Development Agenda initiative had reached a crucial stage. It stressed that the next stage i. e. the implementation stage of recommendations was just as important as the negotiation stage.

It also added that implementation should improve the institutional capacity of developing countries and should cover all aspects of drawing up norms, and that the implementation of the recommendations should be done in a horizontal way.

The decision was achieved after several often stormy meetings at the levels of the General Assemblies or inter-sessional meetings and committees.

There was significant resistance by the developed countries and the WIPO Secretariat when the WIPO Development Agenda was first launched in the 2004 General Assemblies by the Group of Friends of Development (GFOD), led by Argentina and Brazil.

The resistance by developed countries continued in the three Inter-sessional Intergovernmental Meetings (IIM) held in 2005 to discuss WIPO DA, where there were attempts to dilute the content of the Development Agenda to merely the provision of technical assistance.

The IIM was replaced by the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA) at the 2005 GA. The PCDA reduced the number of proposals under the Development Agenda (DA) to 111, divided into 6 clusters: (A) Technical assistance and capacity building; (B) Norm setting, flexibilities, public policy and public domain; ( C) Technology transfer, Information and Communication Technologies and access to knowledge; (D) Assessment, Evaluation and impact studies; (E) Institutional matters including mandate and governance; and (F) Other issues.

These proposals were negotiated on at the PCDA meetings held in February and June this year, leading to the adoption by consensus of 45 proposals.

At a pressing briefing, Argentina's Ambassador Alberto Dumont said that the decision of the GA is "not the end" and that the implementation of the 19 proposals will have to be monitored and a decision on how to conduct discussions at the committee.

He added that there are broad avenues for reform - of WIPO's working methods, technical assistance, etc. There are substantive issues that require deep examination, such as rules that govern IP in the context of development and the changing world.

Dumont said the reduction from 111 proposals to 45 was due to merging many of the proposals, no substance was lost, and "We have the main core issues". The GFOD has taken a comprehensive approach to development, and that they have not seen any WIPO document that addresses development in that manner.

He agreed that the DA may have an impact on other institutions where issues of IP and development were being discussed.

Mr. Guilherme Patriota of the Brazilian Mission said that a distinction had to be made between guidelines, principles and proposals of a practical nature. On technical assistance, many recommendations give clear guidelines to WIPO.

He also mentioned that the DA recommendations had given WIPO the mandate to deal with issues such as Access to Knowledge and alternative licensing methods which previously the organization had not been confident to deal with as it felt that it had no mandate. He added: "This is the beginning".

The DA deals with development not only from a North-South perspective but it affects many other issues that are being debated in the developed countries. He also stressed the need to conduct impact assessment and in this context to work on economic analysis.

According to the GA decision, the CDIP (which is to be established immediately following the GA) is to (i) develop a work program for implementation of the adopted recommendations; (ii) monitor, assess, discuss and report on the implementation of all recommendations adopted, and for that purpose it shall coordinate with relevant WIPO bodies; and (iii) discuss IP and development related issues as agreed by the Committee, as well as those decided by the General Assembly.

The GA also decided that the CDIP will meet twice a year, with its first meeting in the first half of 2008.

It was also agreed that Ambassador Trevor Clarke of Barbados will prepare the initial working documents, including a draft work program in consultation with Member States and the Secretariat. The draft work program will include the financial and human resources requirements for inclusion in WIPO's budgetary planning process.

The CDIP will report and may make recommendations annually to the General Assembly. The Permanent Committee on IP and Development (PCIPD), that used to discuss technical assistance issues, shall cease to exist.

At the plenary session, in introducing the early implementation proposals, Ambassador Trevor Clarke (who chaired the last two sessions of the PCDA that agreed to the 45 proposals) said that during both sessions, member states "engaged in constructive negotiations" and "their spirit of cooperation and compromise lies at the heart of the results."

On the 19 early implementation proposals agreed to, Ambassador Clarke said that he had held informal consultations to identify proposals which could be implemented immediately by WIPO.

Ambassador Clarke also stated the broad guidelines followed in identifying the early implementation proposals, which are as follows: WIPO is already implementing related activities, which could be appropriately modified/strengthened to meet with specific concern; it is not necessary to develop a detailed work program before initiating implementation; the proposal does not require additional human or financial resources at this stage.

During the consultations, the Member States agreed to the 19 proposals. Such agreement does not imply that these proposals have been accorded higher priority than the others. Clarke called on all member states, the Secretariat and other relevant WIPO bodies to ensure the immediate and effective implementation of these 19 proposals.

Brazil stressed that there should be the means (human resources qualitatively and quantitatively and financial resources) for implementing the Development Agenda and the functioning of the CDIP. It also spoke of reorganization of the Secretariat to provide adequate support for the Development Agenda.

China said that there was a need to take into account the varying levels of development of member states and to achieve a balanced approach with necessary flexibilities on the policy front. WIPO had a responsibility to provide the necessary platform so that developing countries can achieve a model that is more appropriate to their own situation.

Chile said that the adoption of DA proposals is "one of the most important events that has happened in WIPO". The establishment of CDIP does not mean that issues of Development and IP will be limited at that committee.

Many other developing countries supported the adoption of the 45 proposals and the establishment of the CDIP. They also stressed the need for sufficient resources to be allocated for the proper implementation of these proposals.

Indonesia stressed that there should be impact assessments and evaluation of WIPO technical assistance. Iran said that the implementation of PCDA recommendations will move the international regime to a more moderate and balanced direction.

South Africa emphasized that the 19 early implementation proposals should not be perceived as having more priority over other proposals. It hoped the implementation will lead to a balanced global IP regime.

The US, while agreeing to the proposals, expressed reservations over proposals that would have financial implications. The UK supported the early implementation proposals but added that if these proposals have resource implications, it should be referred to the CDIP.

Portugal, on behalf of the European Community, said that WIPO has a specific mandate to promote development as part of the UN, adding that it was satisfied with the outcome of the PCDA.

 


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