[Ip-health] Reactions from stakeholders on the nomination of Daren Tang (Singapore) as Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Mar 18 05:44:13 PDT 2020

*https://www.keionline.org/32326 <https://www.keionline.org/32326>--WIPO’s
Coordination Committee nominates Daren Tang of Singapore for the Post of
Director General*

Posted on March 6, 2020 by Thiru

*Updated between 11 March 2020 to 18 March 2020 to include reactions from
stakeholders on the nomination of Daren Tang (Singapore) as Director
General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)*

*Brook K. Baker, Senior Policy Analyst Health GAP (Global Access Project)*

Twenty-five years after adoption of the WTO TRIPS Agreement and 19 years
after the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, we
still have many low- and middle-income countries that have not adopted
and/or are not using and protecting public-health flexibilities that would
help increase affordable and equitable access to medicines for all people
for all medical conditions. Part of the problem is counter-productive,
pro-IP technical assistance that “developing” countries receive from WIPO,
mainstream consultants, and IP offices of rich countries. WIPO needs to
completely turn is technical assistance around, and, instead of encouraging
IP harmonization at ever higher standards, it must recognize and respect
the highly differentiated needs of people and countries struggling under
the burden of monopoly pricing by Big Biopharma. WIPO should encourage
developing countries to adopt and use stringent standards of patentability
and disclosure, all available exclusions and limited exceptions to patent
and data rights, opposition systems, compulsory licenses, parallel
importation, and permissible limitations on remedies. Furthermore, WIPO
should encourage all member states, especially the US, EU, and Japan, to
refrain from seeking to undermine TRIPS flexibilities in other countries
and from imposing TRIPS-plus measures that further undermine the right to

*Thiru Balasubramaniam, Geneva Representative, Knowledge Ecology

Daren Tang, WIPO’s Director-General elect, will need to step up to the
plate in relation to the covid-19 response. It is incumbent on
Director-General elect Tang to spell out his vision for how WIPO, as a
specialized agency of the United Nations, will ensure that intellectual
property barriers do not impede scaled-up access to new diagnostic tests,
drugs, vaccines or other technologies found to be effective in controlling
and treating the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic.

*Dr Hu Yuan Qiong, Senior Legal & Policy Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières
Access Campaign*

For many years, we have engaged in the critical debates on the issues of
patents and health at WIPO fora. The way in which pharmaceutical patents
have been used by the industry is posing a real threat to access to
medicines and public health at the global level. This hits vulnerable
populations the most and makes access to patented treatments a continuous
challenge in resource limited settings. Under Mr Tang’s leadership, we hope
WIPO will engage with civil society organisations, avoid any conflict of
interests in its relationship with pharmaceutical industries, and
concretely support countries to prioritise public health in their
intellectual property laws and policies.

*Gerald Leitner, Secretary-General,The International Federation of Library
Associations and Institutions (IFLA)*

I am very glad to see someone with a strong knowledge of copyright – and
great record of modernising reform at the national level – take on this
role. This is promising news for libraries, who depend on the right
copyright laws to support research, education and access to culture. IFLA
wishes Mr Tang well in this new role, and hopes that it leads to fresh
energy in efforts towards meaningful international action.

*James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)*

Daren Tang will head the UN agency that is responsible for shaping
intellectual property norms and practices in ways that serve the public,
including marginalized communities. In recent years, WIPO has moved some of
its negotiations into off the record informals, making it more difficult
for the public to know what their national delegations favor in the this UN
forum. WIPO has also been unable to usefully introduce economic analysis
into its core activities. This is an opportunity for Daren to show that he
can modernize policy analysis at WIPO, engage with civil society, and
resist the relentless pressure from rent seeking right holder lobbies to
turn WIPO back into a captured institution.

*Teresa Nobre, Vice-President, Communia*

We want to congratulate Mr. Tang on his nomination for the post of WIPO’s
Director General. We hope that Mr. Tang will take a strong commitment to
neutrality, fairness and transparency, and that his senior management team
will be equally committed to those principles. In particular we expect that
his stance on issues that have been key areas of concern for the
organizations advocating for society-oriented reforms at WIPO clearly
contribute to ensuring full participation of civil society representatives,
ensuring that WIPO’s work is based on solid evidence, and guaranteeing that
WIPO and its staff are neutral and impartial sources of information.

*Wilbur L. Ross, United States Secretary of Commerce*

“The election of Daren Tang as Director General of the World Intellectual
Property Organization is good news for the global economy. Mr. Tang
understands the importance of intellectual property rights to inventors,
artists, entrepreneurs, companies, and all those whose livelihoods depend
on their creative genius. Much of today’s economic growth is due to the
application of new inventions, technologies, and cultural creations that
are protected by patents, trademarks, and copyrights.”

*Sangeeta Shashikant, Legal Advisor, Third World Network (TWN)*

Singapore is known for its very pro-intellectual property stance, often
promoting TRIPS-plus positions in trade negotiations. We hope the DG will
recognize that such positions undermine the intellectual property system
and more specifically the WTO-TRIPS Agreement which explicitly recognizes
the system should work to the mutual advantage of producers and users of
technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic
welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations. We also hope that the
DG will adopt a strict policy to avoid any conflict of interests in WIPO’s
activities especially in its norm-setting and technical assistance

*Anubha Sinha, Senior Programme Manager, Centre for Internet and Society,

We’d like to congratulate Mr. Tang on his nomination as Director General of
WIPO. We hope that under his leadership, he will be able to usher more
transparency and due process into various law and policy making functions
of WIPO – from the selection of experts to conducting committee
negotiations. Information societies in developing countries should not be
purely treated as markets by creative industries – this principle should
underpin Mr. Tang’s efforts to bridge the north-south divide. We look
forward to contributing to issues impacting the public interest at WIPO–
and hope that meaningful and steady progress will be made. Foray into new
areas for intellectual property protection such as artificial intelligence
must happen with proper recognition of the ramifications such
privately-owned technologies are having on societies.

*John H. Weitzmann, General Counsel and Head of Policy and Law at Wikimedia

I congratulate Mr. Tang on his nomination as Director General of WIPO. The
Marrakesh Treaty has shown that WIPO can be a progressive force in
copyright reform. Now is the time to engage in a meaningful debate on the
modernization of international copyright law and further improve the
balance between rights holders and users. Wikimedia Deutschland wishes Mr.
Tang all the best for his tenure and is looking forward to a fresh start on
limitations and exceptions.

*Dr. Ellen ‘t Hoen, Director, Medicines Law & Policy (ML&P)*

I congratulate Mr Daren Tang on his nomination for the post of
director-general of WIPO. WIPO’s primary constituency is the public, not
only those that seek intellectual property rights. But serving the public’s
interests is a challenge for a UN agency that expects in the next two years
to raise CHF 880 million in fees for the services it offers. It would,
therefore, be important that Mr Tang outlines how he plans to promote the
UN’s human rights and social justice principles, how he plans to protect
and further increase WIPO’s transparency and how he intends to engage with
public interest non-governmental organisations.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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