[A2k] [Ip-health] IP-Watch: Palestinian Membership In UNESCO Could Raise Questions For US At WIPO

Mohga Kamal-Yanni mkamalyanni at Oxfam.org.uk
Mon Oct 24 04:16:42 PDT 2011

It sounds like more serious for other UNs e.g. WHO!!

Why should politics interfere in health/UN work is beyond me

Best wishes 
Dr. Mohga M Kamal-Yanni
Senior health & HIV policy advisor
Oxfam GB
John Smith Drive, Oxford, OX4 2JY, UK
Tel:       + 44 (0) 1865 472290
Fax        + 44 (0) 1865 472245
Mobile   + 44 (0)777 62 55 884
Skype    Mohga Kamal-Yanni

Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam <thiru at keionline.org> 
Sent by: ip-health-bounces at lists.keionline.org
24/10/2011 11:07
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Ip-health at lists.keionline.org, a2k at lists.keionline.org

[Ip-health] IP-Watch: Palestinian Membership In UNESCO Could Raise 
Questions For US At WIPO

For full article, please see the following url: 


Palestinian Membership In UNESCO Could Raise Questions For US At WIPO

By William New, Intellectual Property Watch on 21/10/2011 @ 11:45 pm

Members of the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and 
Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are preparing to allow Palestine to become 
a member, according to sources. If this happens, it could create 
uncertainty about United States membership in UN agencies, including the 
World Intellectual Property Organization.

Palestinian membership is not expected to have a significant impact on 
WIPO per se ? as WIPO is not heavily dependent on government contributions 
like other UN agencies ? but it could have ramifications for the United 
States, which according to reports has laws that may prevent the US from 
making contributions to a UN agency if Palestine is a member.

Under Article 5.1.i. of the WIPO Convention, any state that is a member of 
a UN specialised agency (such as UNESCO) is eligible for membership at 
WIPO. So if Palestine is recognised by UNESCO, it would be eligible to 
take the unilateral steps to become a WIPO member too. It would have to 
deposit an instrument of accession. There does not appear to be an 
approval process such as a vote by existing membership or a committee.


The WIPO director general likely would be the recipient of the deposit of 
the instrument of accession. It is not clear what else the DG?s role might 

WIPO declined to comment on the issue of Palestinian membership.

WIPO is funded differently than other UN agencies, because instead of 
receiving direct government support (less than 10 percent of its budget), 
the vast majority of its funding comes from fees paid by users of its 
services ? mainly international patent filing, and mainly private sector. 
Only about 1 percent of WIPO funding is from US government contributions, 
according to sources.

UNESCO, by contrast receives some 22 percent of its funding ? or about $80 
million by one account ? from the US government.

Even if this happens, it is unlikely that the United States would have to 
pull out of WIPO quickly, and so would continue to participate in 
committees and with staff working at WIPO (in influential posts). There 
are several WIPO members who have not paid their membership contributions 
for years and they have not had to leave.

But if in fact the United States did not amend its law and eventually did 
have to pull out of WIPO, this would be an enormous change for the UN 
agency in which the US plays a powerful and often leadership role.

The United States was not a member of UNESCO for years, and only recently 
rejoined. Shortly after rejoining in 2003 after a 19 year hiatus, it met 
with a slap in the face as UNESCO members voted overwhelmingly to pass a 
cultural diversity treaty that was seen in essence as a vote against US 
cultural hegemony and which the US vigorously opposed (IPW, United 
Nations, 17 October 2011 [1]). The final commission vote was 151 in 
favour, 2 opposed. Those opposed? The US and Israel.

It is also worth noting that the US is the biggest source of patent fees 
for WIPO, which earns the majority of its revenue from patent fees. There 
were occasional calls in recent years from the US IP industry (which pays 
those fees) for the US to pull out of WIPO if it could not achieve 
breakthroughs in advancing global IP policy such as harmonisation of 
national patent laws. But in order to use the Patent Cooperation Treaty, 
WIPO?s leading fee-generator, it is not necessary to be a member of WIPO, 
just a member of the PCT.

It is true that WIPO members have had to work hard to reach agreement on 
normative issues. But for many, it would probably be inconceivable for the 
US to pull out of WIPO.



Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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