[Ip-health] Fwd: TWN IP Info: WIPO: Failure to reach consensus, “no decision” adopted on four issues
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Thu Oct 2 01:30:00 PDT 2014
*Title :* TWN IP Info: WIPO: Failure to reach consensus, “no decision”
adopted on four issues
*Date :* 02 October 2014
*TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues (Oct14/01)*
*2 October 2014*
*Third World Network*
*WIPO: Failure to reach consensus, “no decision” adopted on four issues
Published in SUNS #7886 dated 2 October 2014*
Geneva, 1 October (K M Gopakumar) – Member States at the recently concluded
46th General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO) adopted a “no decision” outcome when consensus failed on four key
This occurred on past midnight of the last day of the session that was held
from 22 to 30 September 2014.
Despite intensive informal consultations over several days and evening some
nights, the WIPO General Assembly concluded at 12.30 am without any
decision on four areas viz. the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual
Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (Agenda
item 16), Design Law Treaty (Agenda Item 15), the Standing Committee on
Copyrights (Agenda item 14), and Matters Concerning External Offices and
the establishment of WIPO External Offices (Agenda item 12).
The Chair took up the agenda items in a chronological order at the final
plenary which started around 9.30 pm instead of its original scheduled time
of 4 pm.
A series of informal consultations failed to bring consensus among the
Member States. Even though, according to many delegates prior to the final
plenary, there was some consensus on the way forward with regard to the
establishment of External Offices and the Standing Committee on Copyrights,
amendments were proposed by several Member States to the Chair’s text on
these two issues at the plenary. Since there was no consensus the Chair
proposed to adopt “no decision” on these two items.
Similarly, even though the Chair proposed a decision on the work of the
Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources,
Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) and Design Law Treaty, amendments
were also proposed from the floor. Again, it was then decided to adopt no
decision on these agenda items too.
The final plenary considered these four agenda item apart from the
adoption of the report of the WIPO General Assembly and the closing of the
Assembly. The plenary took up the four issues in the following sequence:
Establishment of External Offices, Design Law Treaty, SCCR and IGC. Since
there was lack of consensus on each agenda item the Chair proposed the
adoption of “no decision” but postponed this at the request of various
After running through the all four agenda items the plenary broke for more
than half an hour to make a final attempt to reach consensus. It became
very clear that there was little chance of last minute compromises during
the Chair’s consultation with the regional group coordinators. Accordingly
the Chair proposed “no decision” and it was adopted.
According to experts, the consequence of a “no decision” adoption does not
result in a break down of activities in the four areas but it may impact
the nature of the activities.
Regarding IGC there is a mandate until 2015, therefore the WIPO General
can take a decision with regard to the extension of the IGC mandate at the
WIPO General Assembly in 2015. However, some experts including some Member
States point out that since the IGC is not a Permanent or Standing
Committee, IGC sessions cannot be held without the approval of a Work Plan
at the WIPO General Assembly. According to other experts, since there is a
mandate on the IGC it is still possible to hold informal sessions of IGC if
the Member States want to hold such sessions.
Regarding the establishment of External Offices, there was substantial
progress with regard to the General Principles for the establishment of
these offices. The Chair warned that the consequence of adoption of a “no
decision” would leave the progress in the General Principles hanging. The
decision of the WIPO General Assembly in December 2013 was to report to the
WIPO General Assembly in September 2014.
[The WIPO General Assembly Decision, December 2013 decision reads: “The
Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO and the Unions administered by it,
each as far as it is concerned, decide to continue open-ended
consultations, under the guidance of the President of the General Assembly,
on the proposed guiding principles regarding WIPO External Offices, as
contained in the Annex of document A/52/5, and on the establishment of WIPO
External Offices, taking into account all proposals, related documents
including, but not limited to, the documents submitted to the 51st Series
of Meetings of the Assemblies under Agenda Item 14 and to the 52nd Series
of Meetings of the Assemblies under Agenda Item 5, and the positions and
concerns, including on the process, expressed by Member States during the
PBC and Assemblies meetings, for consideration and recommendation by the
PBC and decision by the General Assembly foreseen in September 2014.]
However, some experts point out that the Member States are free to build
upon the existing work.
On SCCR, experts point out that there is a clear mandate from the WIPO
General Assembly 2012 to work on both areas of a broadcasting treaty and on
limitations and exceptions, which reads in sub-Para 3: “… approved the
recommendations of the SCCR as set out in paragraphs, 9, 14, 19 and 23 of
document WO/GA/41/14 regarding broadcasting organizations and limitations
[The 2012 mandate covers the protection of broadcasting organizations
(broadcasting treaty) and international legal instrument or instruments on
limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives as well as on
educational and research institutions and persons with other disabilities
(limitations and exceptions).]
Therefore the SCCR can continue its deliberations based on the 2012 mandate
and make recommendations to the WIPO General Assembly in 2015.
Regarding the Design Law Treaty, the WIPO General Assembly can continue the
discussion at the Standing Committee on Trademark and make suitable
recommendations to the Assembly in 2015.
*The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property, Genetic
Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC)*
A series of hectic informal consultations failed to reach a consensus due
to divergent positions among Member States. Developing countries,
especially the Africa Group, demanded a specific decision with regard to
holding diplomatic conferences on the legal texts that have so fay been
negotiated in the IGC. They rejected the idea of a Work Program on IGC
without such a decision.
Developed countries led by Group B was in opposition, holding the view that
there is no clarity with regard to the content of the text and there is no
agreement with regard to the nature of text, i.e. whether the international
legal instrument is in the nature of an international treaty or a guideline.
The European Union often stated that it is not ready to accept the outcome
of IGC negotiations in the form of an international treaty.
[A Diplomatic Conference is the United Nations formal procedure to
negotiate a treaty. The WIPO General Assembly in 2009 gave the mandate to
the IGC to start negotiations for an international legal instrument. The
IGC has been negotiating three international legal instruments that seek to
ensure the legal protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and
traditional cultural expressions.
This mandate was extended in 2012 and 2013 due to lack of progress. The
divergence seen last week has essentially remained unchanged all these
In the absence of consensus the Chair proposed the following draft decision
text at the 30 September late night plenary:
“ … (1) took note of the information contained in document WO/GA /46/6
(2) took note of the statements made by delegations at the Forty Sixth
Session of the WIPO General Assembly in 2014; and
(3) decided that the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual
Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC)
should meet in 2015 in order to make a recommendation to the 2015
General Assembly as to the mandate of the IGC for the 2016/2017 biennium.”
Unlike the 2013 WIPO General Assembly decision, the Chair’s proposal has no
explicit reference to the decision to hold the diplomatic conference.
Therefore it is not clear whether the WIPO General Assembly needs to make a
decision to hold a diplomatic conference to conclude a treaty on genetic
resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.
In response to the Chair’s draft decision, Kenya on behalf of the Africa
Group proposed deletion of the third paragraph of the proposed draft
decision, and proposed alternative language. According to their amendment,
the WIPO General Assembly decides to convene a diplomatic conference in
2015 to adopt a legally binding instruments.
Paraguay, on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries
(GRULAC), proposed an amendment by proposing an explicit work plan for the
IGC. This work plan contains three sessions of the IGC with the first
meeting in 2015 (5 days on traditional knowledge), 2nd meeting (5 days on
traditional cultural expressions), and 3rd meeting (5 days on genetic
resources and a 3 day-long high level segment of ambassadorial or high
Japan, on behalf of Group B, expressed its disagreement on the proposed
amendments and stated that technical understanding is still needed.
Bangladesh, on behalf of the Asia Pacific Group, regretted that the draft
decision does not contain any work plan. It further stated that in their
understanding, the absence of any plan implies that the current plan
The European Union stated that any instrument has to be non-binding,
flexible, evidence-based and no decision can be reached at this stage.
India said the IGC texts have improved substantially and the draft decision
is extremely disappointing and does not reflect the views of Member States.
It aligned with the statement of Bangladesh on behalf of Asia Pacific Group.
Iran while expressing disappointment on the outcome of the informal
consultations proposed to convert the IGC into a permanent or a standing
Brazil expressed its support to the amendment proposed by Paraguay on
behalf of GRULAC and Kenya on behalf of Africa. It suggested that the good
way forward is to have a work program.
Egypt expressed its support for the amendment proposed by the Africa Group
and said that “death is honourable than torture” indirectly expressing its
position on no work plan without a decision on a diplomatic conference.
The United States said that it could not agree to a decision on diplomatic
conference or the nature of the instrument without knowing the content of
the document. However it departed from its earlier stand and agreed to have
a work plan.
*Design Law Treaty (DLT)*
The informal consultations also did not result in a consensus. This failure
was due to the negative response of Group B and the Central Europe and
Baltic States (CEBS) Group to the demand of the Africa Group to include a
specific article on technical assistance in the draft DLT. Group B and
CEBS took a position that a decision on technical assistance can be taken
only at the diplomatic conference and cannot be included in the draft
treaty prior to the diplomatic conference.
The Chair’s draft decision proposed the following text:
“The WIPO General Assembly will at its session in September 2015 decide on
whether to convene a diplomatic conference for the adoption of the Design
Law Treaty as soon as practicable”.
Kenya on behalf of the Africa Group proposed an amendment as follows:
“While encouraging the Standing Committee on Trademark (SCT) to continue
its work at its 32nd session and to include the provisions of technical
assistance in the draft text prior to the diplomatic conference.”
Japan on behalf of Group B and the EU expressed their regret that there is
no decision on convening a diplomatic conference.
The Czech Republic on behalf of the CEBS Group also expressed regret that
there is no decision on convening diplomatic conference. It reiterated its
flexibility on including an article on Technical Assistance. It said that
the issue should be decided in a diplomatic conference. It also expressed
its regret on lack of flexibility of “our partners”.
South Africa supported the amendments proposed by Kenya and stressed the
need for having an article on technical assistance prior to deciding upon
the dates for a diplomatic conference. In response to the CEBS Group’s
complaint of not enough flexibility from partners, South Africa said that
flexibility cannot be one-sided.
*Standing Committee on Copyrights (SCCR)*
Even though there were strong rumours of having a repetition of last year’s
text, the draft text became a modification of the previous year’s text.
Unlike last year’s text the draft decision does not contain an explicit
mandate to continue work in the SCCR, especially in the area of
Broadcasting Organisations and limitations and exceptions.
The Chair’s draft decision proposed the following text.
“The WIPO General Assembly
(i) took note of the information contained in document WO/GA/46/5; and
(ii) took note of the statements made by delegations at the 46th session
of the WIPO General Assembly in 2014”.
Kenya, on behalf of the Africa Group, proposed an amendment to the Chair’s
text on the third paragraph. It proposed to direct the SCCR to continue its
work regarding the issue of broadcasting organisations, limitations and
exceptions for libraries and limitations and exceptions for educational and
research institutions and persons with other disabilities.
The Czech Republic on behalf of the CEBS Group stated that the content of
the proposed amendment was discussed during informal consultations and it
was not accepted. However it proposed an amendment to Kenya’s amendment and
stated that it can accept part of the Kenya’s proposal, i.e to direct the
SCCR to continue its work without any reference to broadcasting
organisations, limitations and exceptions for libraries, and limitations
and exceptions for educational and research institutions and persons with
Japan on behalf of Group B supported the Czech Republic and asked delegates
to focus on what we have in front of us instead suggesting new language. It
also proposed to finish the Africa Group’s paragraph at the word “work”
(without reference to limitations and exceptions).
Iran supported the Africa Group.
Brazil said that it deeply regretted that there is no agreement. It further
said that the proposed decision that comes from the Chair does not give the
necessary comfort. It reiterated its commitment on the negotiations on
broadcasting organisations as well as limitations and exceptions for
libraries and archives. It urged delegations to fully recognise the issue
of exceptions and limitations without prejudging the outcome of the
exercise. While extending its support to the amendment proposal of the
Africa Group, Brazil also made an alternative proposal i.e. the decision
language of the 2013 WIPO General Assembly decision.
Egypt expressed its concern on the unwillingness on the part of many
countries to engage constructively. It stated that there is real
unwillingness to engage on exceptions and limitations. It cautioned that
WIPO “will lose credibility in my country and other developing countries”.
Egypt called upon Member States that issues have to be dealt proportionally
in this organization.
While the Chair was proposing the adoption of the decision of “no decision”
Brazil made a last effort to avoid “no decision”. It proposed again the
text of the 2013 WIPO General Assembly Decision that carried an explicit
direction in the sub-paragraph (iii) to continue the work. It reads: “…
requests the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights to continue
its work regarding the issues reported on in that document.” However, this
was rejected by Italy and the Africa Group citing there is already an
agreement to adopt “no decision”.
*External Offices (EO)*
The lack of consensus emerged on the sequencing the process. Certain Member
States insisted that in the absence of a consensus on the general
principles for the establishment of EO there should not be any mention on
the number and location of EO in the decision.
On the other hand, the Africa Group stated that the understanding from the
beginning is that the two-step approach is a single package i.e. first to
finalise the general principles for the establishment of EO and then the
number and location of EOs. Therefore there should be mention of further
discussion on the number and location in the decision and it accordingly
made an amendment proposal.
[The draft decision circulated on 29 September at 5 pm contains the
following parts: transparency of procedures and decision making by Member
States for the establishment of new EOs, rationale for EOs, regional
activity, financial and budgetary sustainability, geographic/locational
aspects, EOs accountability/reporting, implementation and review. The
document also contains a draft decision of the WIPO General Assembly.
The draft decision proposes the adoption of the draft principles. It
proposes opening of not more than 2 EOs per biennium 2014-2015, 2016-17,
and 2018-19. Further, it proposes opening two EOs in Africa and the GRULAC
region in the 2016-17 biennium, and in Asia and other region in 2018-19
The Chair proposed a draft decision on 30 September as follows:
“The Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO and the Unions administered by
it, each as far as it is concerned,
(1) took note of the report of the Facilitator on the outcome of
consultations that were held during the 54th series of Assemblies meetings
and of the “draft Guiding Principles regarding WIPO external offices as
(2) decided to continue open-ended consultations, under the guidance of the
Chair of the General Assembly, on the proposed Guiding Principles and on
the establishment of WIPO external offices with a view to finalizing the
Guiding Principles and all other outstanding issues for consideration and
recommendation by the PBC and decision by the General Assembly in September
The Republic of Korea expressed its regret on the absence of consensus on
guiding principles. It said that it does not agree with the demand of
number and location of EOs in the decision.
Pakistan said it wishes to see a two-step process; the first step is to
finish the guiding principles and then proceed to numbers and locations.
Mexico said that it supports the draft decision and that given the
situation it is the only way to move forward.
China stated that it wants discussion on guiding principles as well as
number and locations and would like to see an inclusive decision. It also
said that it supports Africa about including number and locations in this
The United Kingdom expressed its support for the Chair’s decision text. It
said that the text reflects the current situation by referring to
‘discussions’ not saying the topic of the discussions so it is open.
Iran said it supports the statements of Pakistan and Korea and also
supporting the draft decision. According to Iran the first step is to
finalise and adopt guiding principles before moving to the number and
The German Ambassador who acted as the facilitator for the informal
consultations admitted to the existence of a two-step approach prior to
finalising the decision at the WIPO General Assembly. He appealed to the
Member States not to complicate issues and trying to include details. At a
later stage the Ambassador also proposed an amendment to the Chair’s
proposal in his national capacity on behalf of Germany: addition of the
word “subsequently” in the second paragraph of the decision immediately
prior to the words “all other outstanding issues” to accommodate the
concern of the Africa Group.
[Germany’s proposed amendment in bold: “(2) decided to continue open-ended
consultations, under the guidance of the Chair of the General Assembly, on
the proposed Guiding Principles and on the establishment of WIPO external
offices with a view to finalizing the Guiding Principles and *SUBSEQUENTLY* all
other outstanding issues for consideration and recommendation by the PBC
and decision by the General Assembly in September 2015.”]
The closing remarks of various Member States expressed willingness to
engage to take forward.
(With inputs from Daniela Guaras.)
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