This last week at WIPO has brought a series of welcome surprises. When the proceedings started on Monday, we had a Chairman who was new to both WIPO and the Development Agenda. The Member States faced a battery of 40 proposals that had to be reconciled into a unified document. To everyone's surprise, that happened by week's end. That WIPO was able to produce such a document is amazing. That the document is a powerful affirmation of many key parts of the original Development Agenda proposal is nothing short of astounding.
In the past, WIPO's process of closed-door "informal" meetings between countries has usually served to weaken strong public interest proposals. But this week, though most of the negotiation happened behind the scenes, the final product contains an array of policies for strengthening development concerns at WIPO. For example:
- Promoting measures that will "help countries deal with IP related anti-competitive practices".
- Considering the "preservation of the public domain within WIPO's normative processes and deepen the analysis of the implications and benefits of a rich and accessible public domain".
- Requesting WIPO "to expand the scope of its activities aimed at bridging the digital divide".
And much more. The full text of proposals adopted is set out below. Remarkably, none of the public interest-oriented proposals were abandoned, or even substantially weakened. Member States and the Chairman, Ambassador Trevor Clarke of Barbados, deserve much credit for this welcome achievement. The Chairman fostered an atmosphere that kept everyone working hard, laughing a little, and avoiding the endless procedural interventions that have plagued previous WIPO proceedings.
The Chairman's help will be needed at this year's second and final special meeting on the Development Agenda. That proceeding will be substantially more difficult for several reasons. First, there will be nearly twice as many proposals to deal with in the same amount of time. Second, those proposals are considered more "controversial" -- i.e. many are opposed by either the United States, the European Union, or both. In contrast, all of this week's proposals (save one) were supported by both.
This week brought new momentum into the years-long fight to weave public interest concerns into the fabric of WIPO. We'll be there in June to report on whether that momentum is facilitated or frustrated. In the meantime, we're happy to report that things are looking good in Geneva at last.
Following is the NGO Coalition's notes of the final day's wrap up, including the text of the proposals adopted.