June 21, 2005 | By Ren Bucholz

WIPO: Structuring the Debate

We kicked off the second WIPO intergovernmental inter-sessional meeting (IIM) on the Development Agenda yesterday, and the procedural climate was hot. The heart of the matter was how -- or even whether -- to tackle the substantive reforms presented by countries like Brazil, Argentina and others in the 14-country "Friends of Development" proposal. These changes are designed to make the concerns of developing nations central to WIPO's work, but some countries (like the UK and US) have proposed punting that discussion to a committee that currently meets only every few years and previously focused exclusively on technical assistance -- one small part of the thoughtful and wide-ranging FoD proposal. If this camp wins, WIPO reformers will have the additional task of trying to reinvigorate a moribund, evidently under-funded committee before any changes can be made.

The day ended without much clarity, but because this dispatch is tape-delayed I can tell you that on the second day there was debate. Find out how it all went down when we post the second day's notes.

Full notes from the first day after the jump.

WIPO's Second IIM on the Development Agenda, Round 2
June 20-22: Day 1

Notes by:
Ren Bucholz, ren at eff.org, Electronic Frontier Foundation [RB]
Thiru Balasubramaniam, thiru at cptech.org, Consumer Project on Technology
[TB]

[NOTE: This is not an official transcript. Any errors and ommissions are regretted.]

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-=-=-=-=-

10:43 A.M.

~ Chair (Ambasssador of Paraguay): Highlights the presence of Deputy Director General (Geoffory Yu) & members of the Secretariat. Good weather here and in the rest of Europe gives us the opportunity to ourselves be in a good mood. He would be grateful for a relaxed & friendly environment in the room, and for the thoughtful attention and cordial response to interventions.

Experience from our previous meeting about constant communication among delegations & regional groups shows that both of those things are good and useful.

These are very obvious objectives and at the same time they are very complex. This is why we can't expect to find solutions to all of these questions today. This is a long-term process.

In the time that has elapsed since the first and second IIMs, two new NGOs have applied for and been granted accreditiation.

He'd like to give the floor to the Secretariat to tell us about the new groups.

~ Secretariat: The two new organizations are the Business Software Alliance from America and the (Missing word) Cultural Society (Turin, Italy).

~ Chair: I see no comments from the floor - therefore they are accepted.

Wishes to go over the draft agenda (IIM/2/1 Prov.) There are no comments and the agenda is adopted.

Wishes to go over the adoption of the Report of the First Session of the IIM (See IIM/1/6 Prov. 2).

* Proposes that we adopt a report from the chair on the 22nd, then a full report during the July meeting. This would be made available on the WIPO website on July 4th, and comments would be due before the 11th. Afterward, the report would be available to all governments for their consideration before the next meeting.

We have already received comments on the draft report, but he would like to open the floor to those wishing to comment now. However, if they are just corrections, asks that we please just go to the Secretariat.

~ Argentina: Argentina has a number of comments with regard to the Spanish version of the report. Comments range from grammatical to substantive. Argentina will submit them in writing.

~ Chair: Final item on agenda -- the consideration of proposals from member states. Two new proposals have been submitted to enrich our debate. First is from Bahrain (IIM/2/2), which deals with IPR and economic development. Also, the UK's new proposal looks more deeply at elements of their initial proposal.

~ Bahrain: Wishes to genuinely thank WIPO for its role in supporitng noble goals, especially those that correspond with the goals of the kingdom. Wishes to emphasize that their proposal is supported by Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Syria, Lybia, and other Arab states.

Proceeds to list main points of proposal, which can be found on WIPO's website.

~ UK: Reaffirms the UK's commitment to being an active contributor.

First off, it seems that everyone understands that development needs to be woven into every aspect of WIPO. Where we differ is how to do this.

The heart of the proposal is recognition of two things: 1) given wide-ranging concerns, it is unlikely that consensus can be found in the next two meetings and 2) incorporating development concerns cannot be a one-step process -- it will be ongoing.

UK has argued against changing WIPO's charter, and they oppose forming new bodies and favor the reinvigoration of existing bodies. Ergo, they believe that relocating this discussion to the PCIPD is the most practical way to implement these changes.

"We do not seek to prejudice the scope, modalities, or outcomes of these proceedings." Therefore, they are open on questions of work plans and practical plans. Meeting frequency should be considered and evaluated in light of funding concerns. Notes that DG can call meetings of PCIPD at any time, and they ask him to instigate a meeting at his earliest convenience. Open to discussing a broad range of topics in that committee.

They are not trying to make the PCIPD "stronger" than other committees. However, PCIPD should not be and is not inferior to any other committee. Their proposal is a "suitable vehicle" to take forward other proposals in a practical way.

~ Brazil: Presents a document being circulated by the 14 Group of Friends of Development. It is being handed out by the Secretariat.

It is a suggestion to this IIM as a way to organize the debate on the several different issues that have been dealt with in the proposals before us.

The first GFoD document was quite lengthy. It was submitted just before the first IIM. As such, delegations did not have adequate time to consider this document. Therefore, one of the decisions of the first IIM was that we meet again to consider it in more depth.

Brazil suggest a checklist of the key ideas of the four proposals submitted:

1) Norm setting
2) Review of mandate and governance
3) Technical assistance and capacity building
4) Technological development, technology transfer, access to knowledge, and related matters

This is a suggestion to consider the debate on an item-by-item basis and avoid diffuse comments.

~ Chair: Thanks Brazil. Initially, he thinks this doc is extremely interesting. Hand to Pakistan.

~ Pakistan: Actually, their Ambassador wants to make statement and he'll be here in a short while.

~ Czech Republic: WIPO has been expanding its development work through IP education and capacity building. Believes that WIPO has the ability to deepen its development work via permanent implementation of development principles. They would like particularly to support UK proposal.

~ Italy (On behalf of Group B): "As you may recall, Group B welcomed the discussion of the relationship between IP and development at WIPO at the first IIM." IP has been a tool for reaching economic, social, and cultural progress. As it has already been outlined in the Bahrain proposal, WIPO has already devoted substantial human and financial resources to IP and development.

Group B thinks that WIPO should devote substantial funding to these issues.
We should examine and assess whether the technical assistance of WIPO meet the needs of WIPO recipient countries. WIPO's activities should also be coordinated with the work of other international organizations. We note that flexibilites of international agreements should be taken into account, including TRIPS flexibilities.

Asks for a report on [TRIPS flexibilities?] be made available to members.

Believes that a reinvigorated PCIPD is the place to consider the future of WIPO and development.

~ Morocco: Asks to make the African Group statement later.

~ India: Plans to make a more substantive intervention later, but the proposal by Brazil to better structure this debates is something we should consider now.

Many delegations have many views, but they are often expressed in ways that are difficult to act upon. In short, it would be good to structure debate, and they would further offer a fifth area of discussion: which committee or committees would be responsible for the various aspects involved in the DA? For instance, tech transfer might be properly in the PCIPD, but other pieces may be more appropriately discussed in other forums. All these four or five themes should be dealt with before the discussion of the Chair's summary.

~ Switzerland: We completely support the Group B statement made by Italy. In the first IIM, we had the opportunity to have an exchange of views on issues presented. This session will provide us an opportunity to further discuss the original four proposals and the two new proposals by Bahrain and the United Kingdom.

On the Mexican proposal: IP is tool for development, not an obstacle. All the same, though most developing countries have acknowledged the role of IP, many developing countries have concerns about food, water, and health. These countries and NGOs may have misconceptions about the role of IP to stimulate economic, cultural and social progress.

We would like to have more information on:

How would the assessment of national IP systems be carried out?
What are the budget implications of that assessment?

With respect to Bahrain's proposal, what are the financial implications for WIPO, and how will it affect other initiatives of WIPO. We find the the technical cooperation activities suggested for LDCs extremely useful.

We agree with the UK and Bahrain with respect to WIPO's mandate. The WIPO mandate integrates development activities into WIPO's work. We don't need to change WIPO's mandate. We agree with UK's position on technological transfer activities; we do not need to create a new body for this.

~ Pakistan: Full statement available here:

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

-=-=-=10 Minute Coffee Break=-=-=-

~ Chile: Thinks the proposal from Brazil is an excellent starting point to structure our discussions.

~ South Africa: Wants to be called on later.

~ UK: Apologies for taking the floor a second time already. And also apologies because they have apparently not been clear enough about how their second proposal builds on their first. The UK's proposal does not only relate to technical assistance and capacity building, but to all aspects of WIPO's dev. work. Therefore, they do not feel that their proposal should be cabined in one cluster of Brazil's proposed taxonomy.

~ Thailand (speaking on behalf of ASEAN): ASEAN and WIPO cooperation has been underpinned by a strong development focus. The DA offers a role to further WIPO's work in this area. WIPO-ASEAN cooperation is multifaceted and robust.

~ Bahrain: Agrees with Italy's comment on funding.

~ Morocco: Plugs NEPAD. Quotes Doha Declaration on promoting access to knowledge for all.

The approach suggested by Brazil provides concrete guidelines in which to structre discussion. It is an ambitious proposal. The African Group supports this proposal which is comprehensive and not limited solely to technical assistance. The US proposal only deals with the technical assistance aspects.

They need more time to consider the Bahrain and UK proposals.

~ China: Suggests that they agree with Brazil, India, Pakistan on the proposed way forward.

~ Benin (on behalf of LDCs): Pleasure to take the floor on behalf of LDCs. Their number has risen to 50, most of which are in Africa. 44 are WIPO members. As a global forum, WIPO has assisted LDCs to set a debate on the role of IP and development and dialogues with civil society.

WIPO organized a conference for LDCs in the Republic of Korea on the role of IP in development. They chose Korea as the venue because it has enjoyed an explosion of economic growth in recent years thanks to IP. Korea was essentially an LDC in the 1950s.

~ Secretariat (Sherif Saadallah): WIPO's role has not been to increase IP at any cost. It should be stressed that any member state is free to ignore the Secretariat's advice.

WIPO's legal advice is confidential. A number of WIPO Member States involved in bilateral or regional free trade agreement negotiations have sought WIPO's advice which includes guidance on copyright exceptions, test data provisions, and dealing with the backlog of foreign patent applications.

All of WIPO's norms are deployed within international law, and any country is free to decline implementation if a norm is seen to compete with national interest. There is no "one size fits all" model of IP for developing countries. WIPO works with countries to tailor IP laws to suit ther national needs. WIPO conducts workshops and seminars in countries expressedly at the countries' request.

With respect to NGOs, it should be noted that no group is excluded as an observer. The procedure for accepting NGO is "simple, transparent, and subject to the ratification of member states."

* WIPO's policy will be to increasingly engage NGOs to harvest their knowledge, and intend to hold an interactive forum with NGOS later this year.

Cooperation and assistance are only initiated at the request of [WIPO] Member States.

[RB: The Secretariat's speech is intended to respond to a number of claims about WIPO: that WIPO is a one-way ratchet for increasing IP around the world, that it obstructs participation by NGOs, etc. This is a tad defenseive and extremely rare.]

~ Colombia: Needs more time to consider the new proposals.

~ South Africa: We associate ourselves fully with Brazil's statement and Morocco's statement (speaking on behalf of the African Group). We do not agree that the development dimension should be consigned to the PCIPD because the development dimension is cross-cutting and all WIPO bodies should contribute to the realization of the development dimension.

Would like to urge WIPO Member States to ask how we must implement the development dimension into all facets of WIPO's work.

~ Luxembourg (speaking on behalf of EU): For a more comprehensive EU perspective, they refer to their statement from the first IIM. They advocate building on PCIPD to address developing countries' needs.

~ Korea: Delegation is convinced that IP will be come increasingly important in development. Korea has set up a group to provide technical assistance for other nations, with the help of WIPO. Essentially endorses US proposal to help put DC & LDCs in contact. Endorses Bahrain proposal.

~ Iran: Associates delegation with Brazil & GFoD with respect future debate. We reserve the right to comment on the Bahrain and UK proposals when we have more time to consider these proposals.

~ Egypt [entire statement available here]: We attach ourselves to the African Group statement made by Morocco. As highlighted by the African Group, the G-77 made a statement on their concerns on the implications of IP on development in Doha, Qatar (June 16, 2005). The group of over 130 countries -- the majority of the world's countries -- explicitly called upon WIPO to incorporate the Development Dimension into the core of its activities. In the reform of the UN, WIPO is not and should not be an exception. It is imperative for this session to have a more focused approach to guide these discussions. The GFoD proposal for this 2nd IIM to structure these discussions is a good starting point.

Preliminary comments on Bahrain's proposal:
Appreciate Bahrain's contribution and are happy that the Secretariat has helped Bahrain so much.

Development cannot be the sole responsibility of WIPO which is reaffirmed in this document.

One part of this document mentions that WIPO's development aims should be integrated.

This seems to be the understanding from the Doha conference, where his Majesty, King of Bahrain participated, his Majesty the Crown Prince of Qatar and his excellency the President of Lebanon, and that explicit plan of action from the G-77 statement from June 16, 2005 (Doha, Qatar) seems to disagree with the current Bahranian proposal. In the spirit of Arab solidarity, we will refrain from making further comments on this proposal right now.

~ USA: The US believes that IP is critical for development and to foster economic, social, and cultural progress. IP is part of the solution.

Yet IP is only one part of the solution, and other structures must be put in place, including IP protection. We do not believe that the UN needs another specialized agency. The existing agencies are the best palce to handle these tasks.

With regard to Brazil's porposal, they welcome any attempt to structure the debate. However, they wish to express that many crosscutting issues will be lost in this proposal. The US expresses its concerns that its proposal is characterized as limited to technical assistance. Instead, the US proposal includes "protections & flexibilities." The US has reservations to the approaches suggested by Brazil and Pakistan.

~ Japan: Supports Italian statement on behalf of Group B. Endorses US database plan. Remarks that it is important to avoid duplication of programs, therefore EU & Bahrain proposals are desirable. Supports UK's proposal. Makes several references to WIPO's current budget constraints.

~ Jordan: They have endorsed the Bahrain proposal. This support emanates from our conviction that IP is crucial for development. We should foster an IP culture.

~ Russia: Support UK proposal.

~ Bahrain: Requests the Egyptian delegate to present to him in writing the statement made by the delegate of Bahrain at the G-77 meeting in Doha, Qatar.

~ India: Would like to reiterate that IP should not be an end in itself, but instead should support the goals of society. Several proposals on the best way forward were presented in the morning. In particular, the standing committee on Patents could address growing concerns on patent quality, article 4 of Doha, and article 40 of the TRIPS Agreement on the control of anti-competitive practices.

Support the idea of a WIPO evaluation & research office to work independently of the WIPO Secretariat. Propose a wall of employment between the two bodies. IP assessment should look at indirect and secondary effects of IP in LDCs. Supports a dedicated work group for IT transfer. We would like to see an elaboration of a Treaty on Access to Knowledge and Technology.

~ Argentina: Today, we have had many general statements. In all of them, they have expressed great interest in continuing to talk about DA. We should use our time to pursue the structure presented by Brazil.

They don't think that there is a problem with Brazil's 4-part taxonomy.

~ Canada: Supports statement of Group B. Believes that IP has an important role to play in society. WIPO should reflect the needs of all its Members. We need a coherence. We also need structure for these discussions. We note the Brazilian proposal. We would like to highlight our own proposal, which we made at the PCIPD in April.

Want to emphasize these points in a general way, with specific items below:
1. Innovation, creativity & economic growth
2. IP, development & capacity building
3. Role of WIPO, its bodies, & the Secretariat in the DA

~ Brazil: The structure we have proposed is operational. We must have a structured discussion. We believe that there is a lack of development attention in the history of this organization.

~ Mexico: We welcome the Bahrain and UK proposal. However, we don't have a lot of time to consider them in depth. These proposals contain globally positive elements in addition to the previous proposals. We welcome a thematic discussion proposed by Brazil (on behalf of Group of Friends). In principle, we agree with the list of proposals. We don't agree with every item but we can add other items later. Despite some differences in the documents, they all have positive elements. Perhaps the IB could propose a thematic discussion as a starting point for future work.


[RB: The following is an incomplete but chronologically sound list of the remaining speakers. At this point the Chairs unexpectedly announced that NGOs would have an opportunity to comment on these procedural matters, so we all broke to write something quickly.]

Egypt
Australia
CSC
EDRI
filmmakers' association
TACD
IFPI
EFF
IFA
Innovation Policy Network
IPI
FSFE

~ India: Wants to clarify that tomorrow's informal discussion is nonetheless sctructured.

~ Italy: Group B will meet tomorrow morning.

~Argentina: Reiterates concern of India, expressing a wish for transparency, notice, and a more formal structure for the coming discussion.

~ Chair: Thanks both India & Argentina. Is very flexible, but wishes to move forward. Whether formal or informal doesn't really matter, the issue is to agree. Wants to give delegations the ability to speak frankly & freely & be able to take risks by exchanging views. Will think on it tonight and propose a method of moving forward tomorrow.


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