[A2k] IP-Watch: UNESCO Approves Palestinian Membership; US Faces Decision

thiru at keionline.org thiru at keionline.org
Tue Nov 1 02:15:37 PDT 2011


UNESCO Approves Palestinian Membership; US Faces Decision
Published on 31 October 2011 @ 9:22 pm

By William New, Intellectual Property Watch

Members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) today approved Palestine as a member state, a move
expected to force the United States to choose between withdrawal from UN
agencies including the World Intellectual Property Organization, or
removing a national law preventing the US from funding and participating
in any organization with Palestine as a member.

The vote was 107 votes in favour of admission and 14 votes against, with
52 abstentions, according to UNESCO. Palestine must now sign and ratify
UNESCO’s constitution. When it does so, it will automatically be able to
join WIPO and other UN agencies. Questions arise for US involvement in the
World Health Organization and International Telecommunication Union (which
decides global spectrum use among other things).

US withdrawal is expected to hurt UNESCO’s funding but not WIPO’s, which
is funded mostly by fees for its services. The biggest loss would likely
be for the United States, which risks US leadership and participation in
global decision-making bodies (IPW, United Nations, 21 October 2011).

The UNESCO announcement is here.

[Update:] The US State Department released this statement below today,
following a meeting with key US technology companies, confirming the
potentially negative impact on US participation at WIPO:

WIPO Briefing

Taken Question
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 31, 2011

Question: Did the State Department brief business representatives on
UNESCO’s decision to admit Palestine as a full member?

Answer: Today senior USG officials from State and the US Patent and
Trademark Office briefed representatives from leading U.S. industries on
today’s vote at UNESCO and the implications that vote might have for
Palestinian accession to the World Intellectual Property Organization

During the meeting, Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer
underscored U.S. concern that Palestinian membership in WIPO could have
serious implications for U.S. leadership in this organization, which
supports the global IPR infrastructure and helps U.S. companies protect
their intellectual property around the world. The United States is a
leading global voice on issues related to patent, copyright, and trademark
matters, and should the U.S. be unable to provide its contributions to
WIPO, the impact of that voice could be significantly diminished.

In attendance were representatives from a wide range of U.S. businesses
and industries, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business
Software Alliance, and United States Council for International Business.
The State Department will also brief a number of civil society groups,
including NGO’s with a particular interest in UNESCO.


More information about the A2k mailing list