[Ip-health] NGOs express concern over holding of WIPO Forum

Sangeeta Shashikant ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Mon Sep 23 04:00:41 PDT 2013

Dear friends and colleagues,
Letter to Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization

Below is a letter by NGOs addressed to WIPO Member States expressing concern
over the holding of the WIPO Forum during the WIPO Assemblies.

The letter is signed by the Centre for Internet & Society (India), Karisma
Foundation (Colombia), Knowledge Ecology International (US), LOCOST (India),
All India Drug Action Network (India)
The content of the letter is reproduced below.For a pdf version please see

Sangeeta Shashikant
Third World Network

Letter to Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization

17 September 2013

Dear WIPO Member States

We are writing to express concern over the holding of the WIPO Forum during
the WIPO Assemblies.

At the 2012 WIPO Assemblies, developed countries proposed that the WIPO
General Assembly should include a one-day session hearing from industries
aimed at fostering relations with industry. This issue was neither discussed
nor was a formal decision taken on the matter. Consequently over the period
of one year we understand that the WIPO Secretariat has on its own
initiative held informal consultations to discuss the suggestion.

Recently the WIPO Secretariat issued a notice stating that it was holding a
WIPO Forum 2013, From Inspiration to Innovation: The Game-Changers during
the Assemblies. According to the notice (1), the WIPO Forum will take place
on 24th September from 3.30pm ­ 5.30pm in the plenary hall, where the
Assemblies will be meeting. This suggests that it is the intention of the
Secretariat to interrupt the proceedings of the Assemblies to accommodate
the holding of the WIPO Forum that is unilaterally designed by the

We are seriously concerned with the process and manner in which the Forum
has been organized.

WIPO is an intergovernmental organization and according to Article 8.3(ii)
of the WIPO Convention it is the task of the Coordination Committee to
prepare the agenda for the Assemblies. Accordingly we find it concerning
that the Assembly proceedings will be disrupted to accommodate the holding
of a Forum that has not been formally approved by the WIPO membership. In
fact we understand that during the informal consultations several developing
countries expressed reservations about the holding of such a Forum. The
holding of a forum during the Assemblies effectively converts the Assemblies
from a member state driven process to a multi-stakeholder forum.

Further, the WIPO Assemblies tend to be short of time due to the vast number
of agenda items that need to be dealt with. According to the annotated
agenda, the Assembly may hold night sessions to finish its workload, as has
been done in the past. Thus it seems inappropriate to further burden the
Assemblies with a WIPO Forum.

In addition, the WIPO Forum has been designed by the Secretariat in that the
speakers and the theme appears to have been chosen by the Secretariat
without the approval of the WIPO membership. It claims to feature ³global
innovators² but does not feature the significant issues of users (e.g.
patients, consumers, visually impaired, students) particularly the
challenges of access that prevail in the developing world.  In this context,
the forum also seems to be unbalanced.

We urge WIPO member states to take urgent action to safeguard the
intergovernmental nature of the Assemblies, in particular to ensure that the
Secretariat-driven WIPO Forum does NOT disrupt/interrupt the proceedings of
the Assemblies.

We also stress the importance of ensuring that any future initiative linked
to the WIPO Assemblies should only be undertaken after inclusive and
transparent discussions among WIPO members and a formal decision.

(1) http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2013/article_0019.html

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