WIPO Development Agenda Held Back

Fri, 25 Aug 2005 16:53:00 EST

"A three-day meeting at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) ended with members unable to reach a consensus on how to continue talks on integrating development concerns into WIPO's mandate and activities. Although most countries were in favour of holding further sessions of the 'Inter-sessional Inter-governmental Meeting' (IIM) that has been examining the issue, opposition from the US and Japan meant that no such recommendation will be made to the WIPO General Assembly when it meets in late September. Instead, the WIPO Secretariat will now draw up a factual report of the discussions, which will be finalised at a further meeting just prior to the General Assembly."

"Wide Range of Proposals on Development Agenda

The 20-22 July event was the third of three sessions of the IIM scheduled in response to a September 2004 proposal (WO/GA/31/11) by fourteen developing countries including Brazil and Argentina for the 'Establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO' (see BRIDGES Weekly, 8 September 2004). Debate on procedural issues had taken up some of the earlier meetings and achieving agreement on substantive proposals by the end of the IIM seemed unlikely, so negotiators faced the challenge of both making progress on proposals and on reaching a decision on whether and how to take discussions forward in the future (see BRIDGES Weekly, 6 July 2005 and BRIDGES Weekly, 13 April 2005).

The developing countries that endorse the 'Development Agenda' are known as the 'Friends of Development' (FoD). At the recent meeting, their proposals focused on five main areas: making an amendment to the WIPO Convention; considering a treaty on access to knowledge and technology; establishing an Independent WIPO Evaluation and Research Office (WERO); adopting principles and guidelines for the technical assistance programme; and reforming WIPO norms and practices, including the development of principles and guidelines for norm-setting activities in WIPO, the use of development impact assessments and encouraging wider participation of civil society at WIPO.

The FoD position attracted support from a group of over 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which presented a joint statement (see backing the proposals. Interventions made by public interest NGOs at the meeting emphasised that the IIM should not be debating the need to integrate development into the international IP system, as this was already widely acknowledged in declarations such as the Doha Deceleration on TRIPS and Public Health, the Sao Paulo Consensus of UNCTAD, the WIPO Assemblies themselves, and the Geneva Declaration on the Future of WIPO. The NGOs urged members to come up with concrete recommendations for the General Assembly."

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