[A2k] TWN Info: WIPO-Technical assistance criticized for shortcomings

Sangeeta ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Mon Nov 14 18:55:25 EST 2011

The WIPO Committee on Development and IP is meeting this week.

It is anticipated that the Committee will be discussing the recently
released External Review of WIPO's Technical Assistance activities.
The full report of the External Review is available at

The news report below attempts to capture some of the key issues raised by
the Review on the orientation, management and coordination of WIPO’s
technical assistance activities.

Warm Regards
Sangeeta Shashikant
Third World Network

WIPO: Technical assistance criticized for shortcomings
An updated version of report published in SUNS #7259 Monday 14 November 2011

Geneva, 10 Nov (Sangeeta Shashikant) – A review undertaken by two external
independent experts found significant critical shortcomings and deficiencies
in the orientation, management and coordination of the technical assistance
activities of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

In particular, the experts found that WIPO’s staff and the activities lacked
a development orientation, including a clear understanding of the overall
purposes of WIPO’s development cooperation activities. The experts also
highlighted the lack of detailed information, transparency and appropriate
accountability (monitoring, evaluation and oversight) mechanisms over those
technical assistance activities.

The External Review was mandated by Member states at the 4th session of the
Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) that met in
November 2009, as a follow up to Recommendation 41 of the Development Agenda
that speaks of conducting a review of current WIPO technical assistance
activities in the area of cooperation and development.

It is anticipated that this Review prepared by experts Dr. Carolyn Deere
Birbeck, (senior researcher, Global Economic Governance Programme,
University College, Oxford UK) and Dr. Santiago Roca, (Professor of
Economics, ESAN University, Graduate School of Business, Peru) will be
discussed at the CDIP meeting that begins on 14 November.

WIPO’s technical assistance has been a central component of the
organisation’s deliberations particularly in the context of the WIPO
Development Agenda (DA) launched in 2004. Numerous DA Recommendations
highlight the need for WIPO’s technical assistance to be development
oriented, responsive to the priorities and needs of developing countries,
accountable and transparent. However with little information and
transparency available, most of the technical assistance activities have
been shrouded in obscurity.

Thus the Review for the first time provides an in-depth analysis of WIPO’s
technical assistance activities and attempts based on the information
available, shedding some light on the effectiveness, impact, efficiency and
relevance of WIPO’s technical assistance activities. The period covered by
the Review is 2008-2010.

The Review presents its analysis under the themes of orientation, impact,
management, internal and external coordination. Key observations made on
these themes are noted below.  

[The External Review defines technical assistance activities as all
activities related to: the development of national IP strategies, policies
and plans in developing countries (including needs assessments); the
development of global, regional and national legislative, regulatory and
policy frameworks that promote a balance IP system (including related
research and support for the engagement of developing countries in global
decision-making and dialogue); building of modern state-of-the art national
IP administration infrastructure; support systems for users of the
intellectual property system in developing countries; promotion of
innovation and creativity and access to knowledge and technologies in
developing countries and training and human capacity building in developing


On WIPO’s orientation, the Review noted that although its senior management
had increased its focus on integrating DA Recommendations into the
organization’s technical assistance activities, significant challenges

At the institutional level, the Review found that WIPO did not have a clear
understanding of the overall purposes of WIPO’s development cooperation
activities, or of the phrase “development-oriented” assistance.
On the basis of its terms of reference, the Review noted that WIPO’s
assistance is meant to ensure that developing countries are able to benefit
from the use of IP for economic, cultural and social development as well as
to contribute towards the reduction of the knowledge gap and the greater
participation of the developing countries in deriving benefits from the
knowledge economy.

Against this understanding, the Review found that only a small proportion of
the 2010/11 Program and Budget and less than 15% of the 2012/13 Program and
Budget are related to these objectives.

The Review also observed that the culture of collaboration, public
engagement and openness to different perspectives on the IP system necessary
for improved development-orientation is not yet institutionalized within
WIPO. In fact, staff interviewed by the Experts continued to view WIPO as
the “guardian of the international IP system”, and interpret the DA

As to the focus of the technical assistance, the Review found that the range
and intensity of activities in the area of industrial property was greater
than for copyright and related rights, with a strong orientation toward
improvements in IP administration, public awareness of the IP system,
training administrators of the IP system, and the adoption of legislation
across the full spectrum of IP issues, as well as promoting understanding of
and accession to WIPO treaties.

Further the Experts’ analysis of the 2010/11 Program and Budget revealed
that WIPO’s technical assistance activities do not properly reflect issues
that are of priority to developing countries. The Review notes that the
activities are more focused on assimilating developing countries into the IP
system by attempting to derive benefits rather than to assist to lower the
costs developing countries and their stakeholders face in using the IP

Accordingly the Experts observed that there were relatively few activities
that clearly contributed to (a) the use of TRIPs flexibilities; (b)
promoting access to medicines and education; (c) enlarging the public
domain; (d) ensuring efforts to address counterfeiting and piracy are
aligned with national needs and conditions; (e) the alignment of IP laws
with efforts to protect natural resources, cultural expressions or TK and
genetic resources from unfair use; and/or (f) the promotion of competition
in the area of IP.

On a similar note, it was found that few technical assistance activities
contribute to the goal of reducing the knowledge gap such as to: (a)
attract, absorb, learn from and produce technologies and/or promote
affordable access to knowledge that could contribute to local innovation
processes; (b) promote the coherence of IP policies and other areas of
national public policy; (c) make practical use of various exemptions or sui
generis legal/policy options that would improve access to foreign
technologies and/or manage the degree of protection they receive; (d)
support developing countries to protect their knowledge, creative products
or technologies in international markets and to enforce their rights in
other jurisdictions; and (e) establish and use mechanisms that could improve
balance in national IP systems, such as those related to pre- and
post-opposition to patents.

One cause identified by the Review as contributing to the weaknesses in the
development relevance and orientation of WIPO’s activities was the lack of
systematic process of needs assessment, priority-setting or yearly or
strategic multi-year planning of WIPO’s activities, further noting that the
activities were undertaken on an ad-hoc, request-driven basis (usually from
IP offices) or were driven by the work plans of WIPOดs Programs and those
associated with WIPO Funds In Trusts.

Confusion among Member States and the Secretariat over the term
‘demand-driven’ was also identified by the Review. It noted that
“Development-oriented demand-driven assistance is that which is aligned with
national development needs” and to achieve this there needs to be dialogue
between national beneficiaries and the WIPO Secretariat about national
development strategies, priorities and needs and about WIPO’s obligations to
advance the DA.

However, the Review found that WIPO staff interpret the term ‘demand-driven’
as to be obliged to respond to Member State requests, even where links to
national needs or the WIPO DA are unclear, or where activities are not
likely to be cost-efficient or yield impact.

It further found inadequate discussion between WIPO staff and Member States
on the risks associated with activities or the local conditions/requirements
that would facilitate or constrain the success of activities, even where
WIPO staff are well aware of the constraints. It added that many activities
resulted from offers or suggestions originated from the Secretariat, which
was accepted by the beneficiary Member States, rather than the other way

The Review also makes a number of pertinent observations with regard to some
key activities of WIPO.

On WIPO’s assistance to countries for the formulation of national IP
strategies, the Review found that the Secretariat does not yet use a
satisfactory methodology for assisting developing countries to assess their
development needs, IP capabilities and appropriate strategies and that an ad
hoc approach to support for IP strategies exists.

With regard to technical assistance for legislative, regulatory and policy
frameworks in developing countries, the Experts’ efforts to evaluate the
development orientation of WIPO’s legislative advice was thwarted by the
confidentiality of WIPO’s country-specific legislative advice. However,
based on available evidence, the Experts found an orientation towards
promoting accession to WIPO administered international treaties and limited
practical and proactive advice on how to use TRIPS flexibilities.
The Experts also observed that WIPO no longer used model laws as a basis for
its legislative assistance to countries and that legislative support was
provided through specific legal advice, as well as seminars and WIPO
supported IP plans and strategies.

[The use of model laws had been criticised for a while as imposing a
one-size-fits all model and for not maximising flexibilities in TRIPS and
other IP treaties.]

The Review further found that while some countries did seek and receive
advice on the implementation of IP provisions in bilateral FTAs, WIPO did
not provide assistance in examining the possible development impacts of
these or any other international IP negotiations or implementation options.
On activities to enhance support systems for IP users, the Review found that
a development perspective in the conceptualization of such activities was
often missing as a result of inadequate attention to needs assessment of the
needs of a diversity of potential users and stakeholders. Consequently the
focus remains on promoting the use and usefulness of the system to existing
and potential IP right-holders in developing countries.

With regard to WIPO activities on modernization of IP office infrastructure
in developing countries, the Review observed that low priority was given to
supporting collaboration, information-sharing and coordination among
developing countries.

On WIPO’s engagement with stakeholders, the Review noted that WIPO’s global
events predominantly featured speakers from IP offices, IP right-holders,
the IP legal community, and other industry-related stakeholders. The Review
found examples of technical assistance activities sub-contracted to
consultants and other providers also known to be working for developed
country industry clients, while no similar arrangements with developing
country research institutes or civil society organizations for the provision
of WIPO assistance were found. However, due to the absence of greater
disclosure of the substantive content of WIPO activities, the Experts could
neither confirm nor rule out problems associated with disproportionate
influence of particular companies, international industry associations, or
rights holder organizations on the orientation of assistance.

On the issue of beneficiaries, the Review reveals that while the diversity
of recipients at the national level was steadily growing, the dominant
beneficiaries and participants in activities at the national level remained
national IP offices and organizations representing the interests of IP-right
holders and legal community.


Results of the Experts’ survey revealed that most national IP offices
consider WIPO’s support to be very important for their operations.

However, due to the absence of systematic monitoring, reporting and
evaluation of the impact of WIPO’s development cooperation activities
against their expected results, the Experts stated that their ability to
offer an assessment of the impact of WIPO activities has been hampered.

They also noted that the lack of sufficiently detailed information on WIPO’s
activities by objective, content, expected results, country, region, topic,
or on related expenditures, for conducting impact assessment, effective
management, monitoring of progress or critical evaluation by the
Organization, its Member States or stakeholders.

In addition the Review also observed weakness in the way WIPO’s Program and
Budget document is structured and presented. The experts noted that they
were not able to clearly establish the relative distribution of resources
across the development cooperation activities undertaken by WIPO Programs,
Sectors, and divisions, adding that it was not possible to establish where
the majority of the development cooperation budget goes and thus to assess
whether this distribution adequately reflects the degree of priority
particular issues/activities deserve from the point of view of development.
A related point noted by the Review was that none of the extra-budgetary
resources associated with funds in trust (FIT) were reported in an
integrated way alongside or as part of the WIPO Program and Budget, nor was
there any systematic reporting to Member states about how FIT-financed
activities contribute to the Organizations’s objectives or expected results
in the area of development cooperation.

The Experts also found a lack of clarity within the organization about what
‘development impact’ means at different levels and for the diverse range of
activities in which WIPO is involved.

Accordingly, while recognizing the considerable empirical, methodological
and conceptual challenges to evaluating the relationship between IP systems
and development, and the role of technical assistance, the Experts found
that WIPO lacks the relevant diversity of methodologies and tools to help
countries measure the impact of changes in IP policies and laws on
development and other strategic objectives, or to properly assess how its
assistance may influence the achievement of such impacts.

It also noted that the focus of any internal assessments that do take place
is generally on the short-term results (e.g. over two years), not long-term
or cumulative impact.

The Experts through their country visits also found that a number of
seminars, professional training and activities, conferences were not
properly adapted to the specific needs of recipients, and there was a lack
of follow up to ensure usefulness and exploitation of any benefits.


Generally the Review concluded that the management and oversight of WIPO
technical assistance activities by the Secretariat and Member States was
poor with non-existent effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

It further observed that the WIPO Secretariat was not able to provide
meaningful summaries or evaluations of its technical assistance activities,
budgets or expenditure by country, region or expected results for the period
under Review. In fact for the 2008/09 and 2010/11 Program and Budget, WIPO
lacked an adequate definition of what counted as a development cooperation
activity for the purposes of the Program and Budget process. 

The Review observed that effective monitoring and evaluation was impossible
in the absence of an effective information management system for maintaining
updated, substantive information about activities completed, underway and
planned, the associated budgets and expenditures (personnel and
non-personnel) or the content, impacts and evaluation adding that this
undermines efforts to improve the development orientation, impact and
cost-efficiency of WIPO’s technical assistance activities.

Transparency and accountability were thus weak, the Review noted,
highlighting also the absence of an appropriate forum/opportunities for
Member States to perform an oversight function of WIPO’s technical
assistance activities on an ongoing basis.

The Review also found inadequate use by the WIPO Secretariat of project
management tools for planning, design and implementation of activities,
adding that beneficiaries of assistance were not necessarily experienced
with the use of project management and monitoring tools.

The Experts further found evidence of problems with the timely
implementation and completion of WIPO technical assistance linked with
inadequate assessment and discussion between the Secretariat and beneficiary
Member States of the risks associated with proposed development cooperation
activities, country preparedness, institutional and resource constraints in
beneficiary countries, and absorptive capacity.

The Report also found evidence of over-reliance on external consultants with
a lack of ability to properly supervise the quality or orientation of
consultants’ work; uncertainty by Member States as to the appropriate
contact people within the Secretariat for technical assistance activities;
weak communication beetween IP officers and other parts of governmental and
national stakeholders. Support given by WIPO to a national stakeholder is
often not communicated to other sections of the governments/stakeholders.

In addition, the Review highligted inadequate attention to the broader
public transparency of the organization’s development activities,  important
for the purposes of external evaluation, learning, credibility and
accountability. According to the Review WIPO’s website was not, for
instance, properly harnessed, maintained or updated to serve either as an
effective instrument for communication about WIPOs technical assistance
activities, as a platform for collaboration or critical evaluation, or as a
source of technical assistance and resources for potential beneficiaries.


The Review identified inadequate use of project planning tools, weak
attention to cost-considerations, duplication, institutional bottlenecks or
procedures, and inadequate access to qualified staff or consultants for some
activities as factors that unduly raise the cost of WIPO’s technical

It also noted that WIPO’s financial reporting methodology for the period
2008-2011 did not facilitate an analysis of the extent to which certain
modes of delivery of developing country activities are used, the relative
resources devoted to them, and their cost-effectiveness.


The Review found that the Secretariat faces difficulties ensuring internal
coordination of the diversity of development cooperation activities
undertaken by different Sectors and Programs of the organization. The
investigation revealed examples of duplication and failure to harness
adequately the potential synergies between activities.

The Review noted that there was too little direct knowledge among staff
about the activities of other programs and sectors in related areas or about
concurrent activities within the same country. It also found inadequate
connections between assistance delivered by Regional Bureaus, WIPO’s
external offices and the substantive sectors.

The Review observed that while some efforts were underway in the context of
the proposed 2012/13 Program and Budget to streamline planning to clarify
the roles and responsibilities of the different WIPO’s sectors, the
challenge remains of ensuring that coordination occurs in practice, both for
the design and the implementation of WIPO’s Programs.


On external coordination, the Review concluded that there was inadequate
strategic thinking on the part of Member States or the WIPO Secretariat on
the diversity of external partnerships and collaborations needed to fulfill
the DA mandate. It did not find evidence of systematic mapping by any WIPO
Program of other relevant actors and potential collaborators, or
competitors, in the field.

It also found evidence of duplication and overlap with other actors,
particularly national or regional IP offices that have their own development
assistance budgets and programs.

It noted that a primary focus of WIPO’s efforts was to forge partnerships on
resource-mobilization, both to boost funds for WIPO’s activities and to help
Member States directly access funding to meet their national needs, but
added that this should not overshadow the need for WIPO to pursue
partnerships with the purpose of supporting, learning from, or collaborating
with the diversity of other donors and stakeholders active in providing
development assistance to developing countries on IP-related needs, and on
related areas of public policy, such as public health, innovation, science
and technology.

The Experts further found that WIPO’s engagement with stakeholders on
development cooperation activities varied according to the issue and type of
activity and that overall, there was greater evidence of WIPO’s engagement
with IP right-holders, their associations and private sector IP experts than
with civil society actors (e.g., consumer rights, public health, library,
development actors or public interest lawyers), research institutes and
universities, particularly those from developing countries.

It noted that while WIPO engaged regularly as a participant and a co-sponsor
of events with organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce
and various right-holders organizations, WIPO had relatively little
collaboration with several international organizations (such as UNDP, the
South Centre, UNCTAD) and civil society groups active in promoting
development-oriented approaches to IP policy and practices (such as the
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Third World
Network and Knowledge Ecology International).

The Report observed that WIPO’s weak engagement with a range of
international and national stakeholders and potential partners in the
implementation of developing country activities means that countries do not
benefit from a diversity of expertise, experience and views.+ 

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