[Ip-health] TWN Info:Developing countries demand transparency in WIPO

Sangeeta Shashikant ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Thu May 16 03:44:03 PDT 2013


Title : TWN Info Service on IP and UN Sust Dev: WIPO - Developing countries
demand transparency
 Date : 16 May 2013

 Contents: 

Dear friends and colleagues,

The issue of transparency of certain activities of the World Intellectual
Property Organisation (WIPO) has come up at the 11th session of the
Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), which is taking
place on 13-17 May 2013 in Geneva.

On the first day of the meeting (13 May), developing countries demanded that
Member States should be informed on the content of WIPO's engagement with
the United Nations post-2015 Development Agenda process. They also want an
independent evaluation of the technical assistance on legislative advice
that WIPO provides to Member States.

Below is an article that was first published in SUNS #7584 Wednesday 15 May
2013.

With best wishes,
Third World Network


WIPO: Developing countries demand transparency
Published in SUNS #7584 dated 15 May 2013

Geneva, 14 May (K. M. Gopakumar) -- Developing countries are demanding
transparency in the activities of the World Intellectual Property
Organisation (WIPO).

The issue of transparency came up on the first day of the 11th session of
the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), which is
taking place on 13-17 May 2013 in Geneva.

Developing countries demanded that Member States should be informed on the
content of WIPO's interventions in the United Nations post-2015 Development
Agenda process. They also want an independent evaluation of the technical
assistance on legislative advice that WIPO provides to Member States.

[The CDIP was established through a decision of the WIPO General Assembly in
2007. It is tasked to develop a work programme for implementation of the 45
adopted Development Agenda recommendations; coordinate relevant WIPO bodies
to monitor, assess, discuss and report on the implementation of all those
recommendations and discuss IP and development-related issues as agreed by
the CDIP, as well as those decided by the General Assembly. See SUNS #6335
dated 2 October 2007.]

The demand for transparency in the substance of WIPO's message in the UN
post-2015 development agenda process emerged in the light of past experience
from the process of the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development
(Rio+20).

During the Rio+20 process, the WIPO Secretariat expressed only one side of
the views of patents by highlighting the positive contribution of patents to
sustainable development, without mentioning the negative implications of
patents on sustainable development such as patent protection as a barrier to
technology transfer.

The WIPO Secretariat is also known to have provided technical assistance to
Member States to draft IP laws (legislative assistance) in an unbalanced
manner, without providing any public interest safeguards such as robust
compulsory license provisions or exceptions to patent protection.

The issue of transparency came up while Member States were considering the
Director-General's Report on the Implementation of the Development Agenda
(DG Report, CDIP/11/2). The lack of consensus with regard to the mechanism
to ensure transparency in WIPO's engagement in the UN post-2015 Development
Agenda process resulted in a stalemate with regard to the adoption of the DG
Report.

[This document contains two parts. Part I mentions the key highlights in the
implementation of and mainstreaming of the WIPO Development Agenda and lists
the activities carried out by WIPO to implement the recommendations. Part II
focuses on key developments in the implementation of Development Agenda
projects. Further, Annex I to the document provides an overview of the
status of implementation of the Development Agenda recommendations and Annex
II gives an overview of the Development Agenda projects that have been
approved by the Committee.]

The lack of consensus emerged when Group B, a developed country group,
rejected the offer of the Secretariat to hold briefings on WIPO's engagement
in the post-2015 Development Agenda process, which was earlier accepted by
developing countries.

Group B wanted to remove any reference to hold briefings from the summary
statement prepared by the Secretariat, which would be part of the Summary of
the Chair reflecting decisions and other outcomes of WIPO committee
meetings.

POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA ENGAGEMENT

The demand for transparency in the WIPO Secretariat's engagement on the
post-2015 process came up during the deliberations on the DG Report that
revealed WIPO's participation in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Gap
Task Force and UNDP MDG Taskforce.

Further, the report also discloses the Secretariat's participation in the UN
interagency process on the post-2015 process, the Rio+20 conference, and the
preparations for the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) substantive
session in 2013. In addition, WIPO became a member of the UN System Task
Team (UNTT) on the post-2015 process.

The response of developing countries came in two stages. Initial remarks
were made while responding to the DG Report. More focused interventions were
made in response to the explanation of the Secretariat.

Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the involvement of WIPO in
the MDG Gap Task Force and its contributions to the discussion on access to
medicines and IP in the MDG Gap Task Force, as well as WIPO's involvement in
the Rio+20 process, and other UN mechanisms.

However, the African Group sought further "clarity on the consultative
process that is being followed by the Secretariat to get a clear mandate
from WIPO's Member States to participate in those mechanisms". Further, the
Group demanded, "the Secretariat should express the view of all the Members
and spread out a balanced IP system".

India expressed the same concern and stated that the Asian Group would like
to hear more from the perspectives shared by the Secretariat in a forum like
the MDG Gap Taskforce discussions on access to essential medicines as well
as the post-2015 Development Framework.

South Africa stated that there is a need for more concrete information
regarding the nature of contributions made in deliberations of the MDG Gap
Taskforce. South Africa also enquired how the Secretariat is contributing to
the post-2015 Development Framework process.

In response to the abovementioned remarks, the Deputy Director-General
stated that the Secretariat can provide a more detailed account of the
engagement of WIPO in the next report of the DG.

Further, the Director of WIPO's External Office in New York narrated the
recent participation of the Secretariat in the MDG Gap Task Force,
collaboration with ECOSOC including the follow-up of the Rio+20 process on
science and technology aspects. The External Office also informed the CDIP
about its intervention during the panel convened by the President of the UN
General Assembly on the political process on sustainable development.

In response to the explanation of the Secretariat, the African Group stated
that it is important to know the mandate of the Secretariat in participating
in these deliberations. It also stated that the participation of the
Secretariat should be guided by the Member States. In addition, the African
Group stressed that the Secretariat should inform Member States about its
engagements in such forums.

Pakistan expressed the same concern and sought information on the precise
role of the WIPO External Office in the sustainable development goals
process. It also asked about the nature of the contribution of WIPO to the
discussion on the MDGs.

(The Rio+20 conference mandated the UN General Assembly to establish an Open
Working Group to formulate sustainable development goals.)

Bolivia said that the question is not on the participation of the
Secretariat in UN processes but on the substance, nature and manner of
participation. Bolivia added that it would like to know the exact nature of
the participation.

It further mentioned that the concern is coming from the fact that during
the Rio+20 process, WIPO spoke only of the positive aspects of IP and was
silent on the implications of IP on technology transfer. It sought balance
in the approach of WIPO and demanded that WIPO should reflect the diverse
views of Member States.

Reflecting the same sentiments, Pakistan said the issue is not the
participation of the Secretariat but the concern is on the substance
mentioned during these consultations.

Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, stated that positions on key issues
are divergent and therefore we should know the details of the message.

India aligned with the concern expressed by Algeria, Pakistan and Bolivia
and stated that the content needs to be communicated to Member States.

Belgium, on behalf of Group B, opposed the Secretariat's offer to hold
briefings on WIPO's engagements in the UN post-2015 Development Framework
process, stating that it would not like to micromanage the Secretariat.

LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANCE AND COUNTRY PLANS

The DG Report stated: "The Organization continued to provide legislative
assistance to the developing and least developed countries throughout the
year. Such advice was development-oriented, balanced and tailored to unique
Member State requests, in accordance with the Development Agenda principles
and bearing in mind the applicable flexibilities relevant to countries at
differing levels of development. ... In delivering this service, the WIPO
Secretariat followed the principle of neutrality and complied with the duty
of confidentiality".

Regarding the country plan issue, the DG Report stated: "The Regional
Bureaus of the WIPO Development Sector have undergone a process of close
consultation with Member States to develop Country Plans, and these Plans
have been finalized for a number of countries in each region, with a view to
putting in place an integrated and comprehensive development assistance
framework".

Responding to this assertion in the DG Report, Brazil, on behalf of the
Development Agenda Group (DAG), stated: "This is a very sensitive and
important issue for the Development Agenda and there is no broader
evaluation on the legislative assistance activities carried out by WIPO. It
is time to consider the possibility of having an independent evaluation on
this specific type of technical assistance".

Regarding country plans, the DAG stated that: "Since this is one of the key
elements of the Development Agenda and there is a discussion under this
Committee on the review of the technical assistance provided by WIPO, the
DAG would appreciate that the Secretariat prepare an information document
for the next session of the CDIP reporting, with more details, on how the
Œcountry plans' are being implemented. The report should include information
on the countries for which Country Plans have been developed, the process
followed in developing these Country Plans, and also present the template of
development assistance framework. This would enable a comprehensive
assessment of how far these frameworks are development oriented."

Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, remarked that: "The report also
asserts that development oriented and tailored legislative assistance was
provided to developing countries and LDCs, bearing in mind flexibilities
relevant to countries at different levels of development. However, this is a
mere self-certification and there is need for an independent evaluation of
WIPO's legislative assistance. Also, the reform of national IP plans and
technical assistance in accordance with recommendations is not addressed by
report".

On country plans, the African Group said that, "We do welcome such an
initiative and would like the Secretariat to provide further information
about the Countries, the process followed in developing these Country Plans.
This would enable a comprehensive assessment of how far these frameworks are
development oriented."

Pakistan also expressed its concern and said that details of legislative
assistance are required.

The United States expressed its disagreement on the demand on transparency
in country IP plans and legislative assistance. It stated that Member States
are sovereign and legislative assistance are demand-driven, and therefore
should not be made public.

Switzerland also shared the position on these issues and asked for the
maintenance of confidentiality.

The Secretariat stated that the template on national IP Plans is already in
the public domain and more information can be made available on the ongoing
process between the Secretariat and each Member State. Regarding the
legislative assistance, the Secretariat stated that the Secretariat alone
cannot reveal the information unless the country itself wants to make the
legislative assistance public.

In response to the Secretariat response, Brazil stated that WIPO should not
presuppose confidentiality.

Pakistan, sharing the same concern with Brazil, stated that the
confidentiality should be maintained only when there is an explicit request
from Member States.

Belgium, on behalf of Group B, stated that it is up to each country to
decide whether the country plans be made available in public.

The 11th session of the CDIP is to discuss other important issues viz. the
joint proposal of the DAG and African Group on WIPO's technical assistance
based on the findings of the external review, independent review of
implementation of DA (Development Agenda) recommendations, including the
pre-eminent agenda item on IP and development in CDIP and modalities of the
coordination, monitoring, assessing and reporting mechanism for the DA. +
 







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