[A2k] Dr. Carolyn Deere in IP-Watch - Inside Views: WIPO’s Assistance To Developing Countries: Taking Forward The Unfinished Reform Agenda

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Nov 14 10:15:10 PST 2014


WIPO’s Assistance To Developing Countries: Taking Forward The Unfinished
Reform Agenda

*By Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, Global Economic Governance Programme,
University of Oxford.*

At this week’s Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP),
WIPO Member States continue to debate next steps on the unprecedented
2011 External
<http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/mdocs/en/cdip_8/cdip_8_inf_1-annex1.pdf> of
WIPO’s assistance to developing countries. With a new Deputy Director
General for the WIPO’s Development Sector due to start work this December,
the prospect of new leadership also marks a time for Members to provide
clear direction. They should act this week and in the coming months to set
clear priorities for the Secretariat – and for themselves – that would give
greater focus to the ongoing work of improving WIPO’s development
cooperation activities, and to establish a mechanism for monitoring

*An Unfinished Reform Agenda*

While a full assessment of the process and politics of the follow up to the
Review is well beyond the scope of this note, several contextual remarks
are needed.

At the heart of the 2011 Review was a critical assessment of the way in
which the Secretariat and Member States go about the business of planning,
implementing and evaluating WIPO’s development cooperation activities. On
all three fronts, the Review provided evidence of many fundamental
problems. Here it is important to recall the landmark nature of the review
– never before had a comprehensive internal or external review of the suite
of WIPO’s assistance been undertaken. The positive news from the report was
its recommendations – which provided guidance on how many of the problems
can be addressed with commitment by the Secretariat and careful oversight
from Members and stakeholders.

Despite three years of meandering discussions dominated by procedural
debates, the Review report, subsequent recommendations by Member States in
writing (such as those in a joint proposal
<http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/mdocs/en/cdip_9/cdip_9_16.pdf> by the
Africa Group and Development Agenda Group) and during meetings, as well as
decisions by Member States and the Secretariat, have produced some useful
progress. This includes greater focus by the Secretariat on defining and
measuring the expected results of development cooperation (rather than on
simply listing completed activities); greater transparency of resources
available from Funds-in-Trust for development activities by Program; the
mainstreaming of a number of CDIP projects into WIPO’s ongoing development
cooperation activities; and a strategic review of the WIPO Academy.

However, there is still a long way to go for achieving the vision for
WIPO’s development cooperation set out in Recommendation 1 of the
Development Agenda (i.e., WIPO technical assistance shall be, *inter alia*,
development-oriented, demand-driven and transparent, taking into account
the priorities and the special needs of developing countries, especially
LDCs, as well as the different levels of development of Member States and
activities should include time frames for completion).

In several areas where the Secretariat has taken action in response to
recommendations, the result has fallen short of reaching the underlying
objectives. The database of consultants and WIPO technical assistance; the
technical assistance manual (which included a template for country
assistance plans); and the brochure on WIPO’s assistance programs, each
lack key information needed to make them the much-needed tools for
transparency and strategic guidance that Members envisaged.

There are also some instances where the Secretariat’s statements may give
the impression of greater progress than is the reality. Since the first
CDIP meeting on the Review, the WIPO Secretariat has argued that the
recommendations for country plans and IP strategies are well underway.
However, as noted in the 2014 report by WIPO’s External Auditor, the number
of country plans that actually exist is not clear, nor are these easily
available for review. Similarly, while the Secretariat speaks often of the
methodology and tools that emerged from its CDIP project on IP strategies,
these strategies are as yet in place for only a small minority of recipient
countries. To ensure development-orientation in both country plans and IP
strategies, the point is not that these should be rushed; on the contrary,
they demand careful reflection and consultation. But Members should not be
under the illusion that these are meanwhile widely in place.

Further, the Secretariat acknowledges that evaluation and data-gathering on
its development activities remains limited and *ad hoc*. The IOD’s two
country portfolio evaluations have been useful undertakings as have
individual DA project evaluations, but these do not fill the much wider gap
in WIPO’s evaluation culture. Too few development activities integrate
effective evaluation processes from design to completion. Although WIPO’s
Results-based Management (RBM) process has introduced greater attention to
expected results across WIPO, there is still need to refine the expected
results and performance indicators for many development activities. The
Secretariat also concurs that it still has a way to go on improving
internal coordination to reduce duplication and maximise synergies for
development impact.

Finally, although several of the CDIP projects reflect the broader goals of
more development-oriented assistance, such as South-South sharing of
experiences of different uses of the IP system, options for tailoring
national IP laws and institutions to national needs, and impact assessments
of some laws and treaties, much work remains to embed
development-orientation in WIPO’s activities.

A critical gap, for instance, is the lack of an adequate definition of what
counts as a WIPO development cooperation activity. Until Members come to
such an Agreement at the Program and Budget Committee, Members lack
adequate tools for tracking where WIPO’s money for development cooperation
is going and for what purposes. A further gap is the absence of a policy
framework to guide WIPO’s partnerships with other international
organisations and with stakeholders – as recipients and providers of
assistance and as co-hosts of events and training – to ensure these reflect
the Development Agenda’s call for development-orientation.

*The Need for Ongoing Oversight of Improvements*

Remarkably, in discussions so far this week, some developed countries
proposed that there is no need for further action on the Review’s
recommendations. This position makes no sense.

Developed countries are perhaps the greatest advocates of more effective IP
systems in developing countries. Most developing countries concur on the
need to put in place relevant IP laws, durable institutions, and effective
processes for IP-related policymaking and stakeholder consultation that
advance their development goals.

It is surely self-evident that just as the reform of IP laws and
institutions in developing countries – and the task of engaging the
diversity of relevant stakeholders – is an ongoing process, the improvement
of WIPO’s development cooperation programs is also an iterative process of
change that will be ongoing for several years. It will take careful
oversight from Member States, as well as adjustments over time.

Both Member States and the Secretariat must view the External Review and
the follow up to its recommendations as a multi-year process; as a work in
progress with many potential outcomes, not as a single CDIP ‘project’ with
a one-off, time-bound outcome before completion. (Indeed, the Secretariat
itself has noted that action on the many Review recommendations that it
agrees with is not yet completed, but is being undertaken on a continual
basis.) It also makes no sense for Members in other WIPO bodies (such as
the SCP and the SCT) to stall their deliberations while awaiting ‘the
outcome’ or conclusion of the Review process.

Viewed in this way, Members should see the External Review item on the CDIP
agenda as a central part of the Committee’s ongoing work program – and to
use it more strategically and purposively as a focal point for improvement
and strengthening of WIPO’s assistance to developing countries. This
regular agenda item could have three roles:

   1. Progress Reporting by the Secretariat. Already, in 2013 the
   Secretariat presented to the CDIP a very useful and detailed report on the
   status of their efforts to implement certain Review recommendations (see
   Members should request a similar report on an annual basis. While useful
   tools, the CDIP project reports are too specific, and organisation-wide
   Program Performance Reports too general to provide the necessary evidence
   of progress and outcomes. Now that the 2013 model for such a report exists,
   the burden of updating it annually should not be too onerous and would
   provide vital information for all involved.

   1. Member State Decision-making. Here, Member States would have the
   opportunity to adopt recommendations to improve WIPO’s assistance to
   developing countries on an ongoing basis. In order for Members to keep
   track of exactly how much progress is being made over time, Members should
   take greater care to provide clear benchmarks and timelines for action by
   the Secretariat, and where relevant by Member States themselves.

   1. Independent Verification: At present, Member States rely on
   Secretariat’s own self-reporting on progress with reforms. The example
   given above of an apparent overstatement of progress on country planning
   highlights the need for independent verification. Here, Members could
   request that WIPO’s Internal Oversight Division verify key elements of the
   annual ‘status of implementation’ report proposed above.

*Three Priorities for Decision-Making: Boost Transparency, Improve
Planning, More Evaluation and Knowledge-Sharing*

Building on the Review recommendations, subsequent proposals and the
content of debates among the Membership, there are three clear areas where
Members can and should adopt recommendations that would make a real
difference to WIPO’s development cooperation.

   1. Transparency is key to oversight by Members and stakeholders and
   matchmaking between donors and recipients. In addition to adopting a
   definition of development expenditure, Members should call for greater
   transparency of: the performance of consultants, and conflicts of interest;
   the work of regional bureaus (the largest proportion of WIPO’s development
   spending but the least transparent in terms of specific Program goals);
   bilateral negotiations on the use of extra-budgetary contributions for
   WIPO’s development cooperation; the content of its technical assistance
   portfolio by including budget and substantive information on the projects
   and evaluations in its on-line database; and the outputs and evaluations of
   work by external consultants listed in its database. Governments should
   also call for a peer review policy for WIPO-commissioned studies, and
   greater reporting by the Global Challenges Division to the CDIP to enable
   Member State input on the governance and activities of its
   multi-stakeholder platforms aiming to assist developing countries.

For their part, governments should agree to make their strategies and
country plans publically available on WIPO’s website. For the same reason,
developing country Members should agree to make the legislative and
institutional advice that WIPO provides them publically available (while
retaining the possibility of excising sensitive paragraphs). Members that
make extrabudgetary contributions to WIPO should agree to a Donor
Roundtable that would be open to all Members to attend.

   1. IP strategies and country planning: Members should work with the
   Secretariat to devise concrete benchmarks for WIPO’s progress on country
   planning (i.e., number of plans by a particular date), and to ensure
   country plans are linked to IP strategies and, in the case of LDCs, to the
   ‘needs communications’ they submit at the WTO. IP strategies formulated
   through multi-stakeholder national consultative processes, aided by
   relevant experts, would be a critical tool for realising the vision of
   demand-driven, development-oriented assistance. Developing country Member
   States have a lead role to play in making sure this happens. To build
   confidence, more developing country Member States themselves should put up
   their hands to engage in processes of country planning in the next two
   years, and in multi-stakeholder processes for the development of national
   IP strategies that reflect their development needs and circumstances.

   1. Evaluation and Knowledge-Sharing: Monitoring and evaluation of the
   impact of the resources WIPO devotes to development cooperation is vital to
   learning lessons and improving future assistance, and also as a tool for
   the oversight and accountability critical to good governance. Members
   should ask for the Secretariat to produce a draft evaluation policy and
   process for its development activities for consideration by the CDIP next
   year. Members should also call on the Secretariat to make a proposal for
   improving the accessibility and public dissemination (such as through
   WIPO’s website) of the significant range of country reports, case studies,
   and sectoral experiences produced as part of the CDIP process and through
   other WIPO work on matters relevant to IP and development. Greater
   attention to making use of this knowledge would help ensure that the range
   of WIPO’s development assistance activities are better informed by expert
   knowledge on impacts, opportunities, and development-oriented options in
   the IP policy arena, and enable South-South learning from each other’s
   reform processes.

In sum, Members can stop themselves from retrenching to pre-Development
Agenda-style posturing – this is the week to do so. They can start by
viewing the Review as a process, with an ongoing need for follow-up, and by
adopting decisions on the shared priorities proposed above.

*Dr. Deere Birkbeck** was co-author with Dr. Santiago Roca of the 2011
External Review of WIPO’s Technical Assistance in the Area of Cooperation
for Development.*

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