[A2k] Sign Petition: A new course for The Pan African Intellectual Property Organization is needed

ahmed abdel abdelatif at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 24 12:55:12 PDT 2012

Dear all,

In 2006, a meeting of African Ministers responsible for Science and 
Technology mooted the idea of establishing a Pan-African Intellectual 
Property Organization (PAIPO). Since then, nothing much has been 
publicly discussed about the nature and functions of this
 organization until the 'final' draft of a PAIPO statute surfaced 
recently for adoption at the forthcoming 5th African Union Ministerial 
Conference on Science & Technology (AMCOST V) meeting Nov 12 - 16 
2012 in Congo (Brazzaville).

The draft statute as it currently stands gives PAIPO significant powers 
in regulating IP in Africa. However, it also advances a narrow view of 
IP as an "end in itself" which does not take on board many of the 
critical public policy objectives in the areas of
 innovation, access to knowledge and access to medicines
that African countries 
have played a key role in pushing forward at the international level. 
The petition (below) calls upon African countries and the African Union to
 delay the establishment of PAIPO in order to
 allow for wider consultations on the nature and scope of this 
organization. Most important, the petition calls for
 recalibrating PAIPO's objectives and mandates so they are in line with Africa's development needs and priorities."

Please support and sign the petition at:

Ahmed Abdel Latif 


A new course for The Pan African Intellectual Property Organization is urgently needed


The 5th African Union Ministerial Conference on Science & 
Technology (AMCOST V) meeting Nov 12 - 16 2012 in Congo (Brazzaville) is
 expected to adopt the ‘final’ draft statute of a new Pan African 
Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO). 

However, the draft statute as it currently stands raises many 
concerns both procedurally and substantively. The draft PAIPO statute is
 the result of a non- transparent process without open consultations 
with relevant stakeholders including civil society.
 No drafts of the statute have previously been issued let alone publicly
 discussed. More importantly, the draft statute reflects a narrow vision
 of intellectual property that runs contrary to the aspirations of 
Africans to devise more balanced intellectual
 property regimes that effectively promote innovation while also being 
supportive of public policy objectives in areas such as public health 
and access to knowledge. In this regard, the draft PAIPO statute 
undercuts efforts carried out by African countries
 to advance such aspirations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and 
at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and which have 
resulted in important milestones such as the Doha Declaration on TRIPS 
and Public Health (2001) and the WIPO Development
 Agenda (2007). 

Through this petition, we call upon African countries and the African Union Secretariat to take urgent action in order to:

a) Defer the consideration of the draft statute that would lead to the creation of PAIPO.

b) Use the November meeting to start an open and inclusive 
consultative process on the nature, scope and objectives of this new 
body. Moreover, the consultations should be structured to enable various
 stakeholders, civil society in particular, to contribute
 to the discussions with a view towards revising the current draft 
statute and making any resultant IP organization in tune with Africa's 
development goals and the positions taken by the African countries at 
the multilateral level.

Below, we further elaborate on the reasons for the need to reconsider
 the current draft of the PAIPO statute and hold wider consultations on 


Why is a new course for PAIPO is urgently needed?

(i) Many countries are increasingly seeking to harness innovation and
 creativity to foster economic growth and find solutions to pressing 
public policy challenges. In this context, intellectual property has 
acquired a growing importance in recent years.
 At the same time, it continues to be a deeply contentious topic 
particularly in relation to issues such as promoting creativity in the 
digital environment, food security, climate change, access to medicines 
and, more broadly, access to knowledge. African countries
 have been at the forefront of the global debates to achieve more 
balanced intellectual property regime that is cognizant of the 
aforementioned issues.

(ii) In this context, the means to strengthen African cooperation in 
the area of intellectual property require careful consideration and an 
active process of public deliberations where a diversity of views and 
interests is represented. 

Lack of transparency and broad consultations result in a one-sided view: 

(iii) Since the idea of PAIPO emerged in 2007, deliberations 
surrounding it have lacked transparency and have been confined to a 
small number of experts and consultants with little information made 
available to the wider public and relevant stakeholders.
 No broad multi-stakeholder consultations regarding the objectives and 
functions of the new entity have taken place. The lack of transparency 
and of open consultations has led to the one-sided view evident in the 
narrow focus of the current draft statute of
Innovation should be at the forefront: 

(iv) Rather than focusing on the promotion of innovation, the draft 
statute focuses narrowly on intellectual property as an “end in itself” 
and on a “one-size fits all” approach. The word “innovation” is only 
mentioned once in the entire statute while it
 embodies the ultimate goal that African countries should be pursuing. 
The draft statute advocates the promotion of IP rights and the 
harmonization of IP laws across the continent without any consideration 
for differences in levels of development and in socio-economic
 circumstances in individual countries in Africa. Such an approach to 
intellectual property runs contrary to the spirit and letter of the WIPO
 Development Agenda initiative supported by African countries. Moreover,
 the value of greater collaboration, open-source
 research, and alternative reward systems for innovation which are being
 actively considered at the international level should figure in the 
PAIPO statute.

Public policy objectives should be addressed:

(v) The PAIPO statute should make reference to the need to achieve a 
balanced IP regime by incorporating the language of article 7 of the 
TRIPS Agreement. It also should mention the importance of African 
countries using limitations, exceptions and flexibilities
 to promote access to medicines and knowledge. It has been pointed out 
that the draft statute of PAIPO might not differ much, in this regard, 
from the statutes of OAPI and ARIPO. 

However, the statutes of these 
regional organizations were drafted decades ago
 at a time when intellectual property rights did not have the far 
reaching public policy implications they have today. A new African body 
dealing with IP should address the advantages as well as the limitations
 of IP and provide a flexible policy space for
 AU Members to calibrate IP protection according to their needs and 
different levels of development. Finally, the draft statute should 
reaffirm the existing rights of least-developed African Union Members to
 use and seek further extensions under TRIPS so as
 to promote the development of technological capacity and to ensure 
affordable access to essential commodities and public goods.
(vi) Finally, the draft statute should make reference to important 
milestones which crystallize the vision, principles and priorities of 
intellectual property advanced by African countries at the 
global level such as the Doha Declaration on TRIPS
 and Public Health (2001), the WIPO Development Agenda Recommendations 
(2007) and the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, 
Innovation and Intellectual Property (2008) as well as other reference 
documents such as the Millennium Development
 Goals (MDGs). In addition, African countries have tabled, in recent 
years, specific proposals at the WTO and WIPO on patents and public 
health, technology transfer, limitations and exceptions for libraries, 
archives, education and research as well as the
 protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore 
that should be included. 

An incremental bottom-up approach is needed:

(vii) PAIPO ambitions to grant unified IPRs throughout Africa is 
simply not feasible in any near future or medium term for many technical
 reasons. There is no evidence in the draft statute that PAIPO is not 
attempting to supplant ARIPO and OAPI let alone
 create another layer of bureaucracy. The logical step to start should 
be to build synergies between OAPI and ARIPO. Rather than a bottom-up 
approach, PAIPO promoters have taken a top-down approach that will 
remain ink on paper for many years without practical
 implementation, a shortcoming that is often criticized in efforts 
towards African integration. This can be avoided by taking a more 
gradual or incremental and deliberative approach involving extensive 
consultations with various relevant stakeholders and organizations.

All stakeholders should be treated equally: 

(viii) When mentioning the intergovernmental organizations with which 
PAIPO should cooperate such as ARIPO, OAPI and WIPO, the statute makes 
reference the International Confederation of Authors and Composers 
Societies (CISAC) which is not an intergovernmental
 organization but an international non-governmental organization which 
promotes the rights of authors and creators through stronger copyright 
protection and enforcement. Such a reference is unheard of in the 
statute of any intergovernmental intellectual property
 organization but is a sign, among others, about the extent to which 
PAIPO’s draft statute is more tilted to the views and interests of right
 holders to the detriment of other stakeholders. 

An evidence based approach to IP

(ix) There is a growing consensus at the international level that 
work on IP, particularly in the area of norm setting and capacity 
building, should be based and informed by sound, neutral and objective 
empirical evidence. The draft statute of PAIPO could
 incorporate such an important consideration and thus become the first 
IP intergovernmental organization to do so. 

An organization for the 21st century:
(x) In a nutshell, the proposed statute establishing PAIPO reads as 
if it could well have been written in the 1980s or the 1990s. The vision
 of IP it carries is outdated. It is imperative for AU to change course 
on PAIPO in order to establish an organization
 that truly embodies African aspirations for the 21st century in the 
areas of intellectual property, innovation, dissemination of knowledge, 
and development.


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