WIPO Development Ctte Agrees on South-South Project, Considers External Review

23 November 2011

The World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) reviewed last week the implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda (DA) recommendations, which were adopted in 2007 with the aim of "enhancing the development dimension of the organisation's activities." The committee also reached agreement on a South-South co-operation project that had led to the suspension of the previous session of the CDIP, and examined an external review of WIPO's technical assistance.

Stalemate on South-South co-operation project resolved

The CDIP's seventh session was suspended in May 2011 over disagreements between members on a South-South co-operation project, first submitted by Egypt in November 2010 and endorsed by the African Group and the Development Agenda Group, a group of like-minded developing countries (see Bridges Weekly, 11 May 2011).

The proposed project would entail the organisation of four interregional meetings among developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs); the creation of a webpage on the WIPO site on South-South co-operation; and the launch of an interactive web portal among IP offices, civil society organisations, and research institutions in developing countries and LDCs.

Restricting participation in the interregional meetings to developing countries and LDCs had caused some discomfort for developed countries, who wanted to ensure participation by all interested member countries.

The project was accepted last week with the understanding that the terms of reference for the project would be finalised through further consultations by January 2012 and that the interregional meetings would be open to developing countries, LDCs, and all other interested members.

External review of technical assistance attracts attention

At the meeting, the Committee also considered an external review of WIPO's technical assistance, which had been mandated under the DA. The external review examined the technical assistance activities performed by all WIPO departments in the area of co-operation and development from 2008 to 2010.

The DA mandates that WIPO technical assistance be "development-oriented, demand-driven and transparent, taking into account the priorities and the special needs of developing countries, especially LDCs, as well as the different levels of development of WIPO member states."

The review - the first of its kind at WIPO - found shortcomings in the orientation, impact, management, and co-ordination of the technical assistance activities undertaken by the organisation, and called for improvements in the internal processes of WIPO's development activities.

In response to these findings, the EU and the US agreed that it was necessary to review the recommendations outlined in the report, in order to take into account any recent developments. They noted that some of these recommendations might have already been addressed since the report's completion, while others might be best dealt with in other contexts. In that light, the EU and US also requested that the WIPO Secretariat produce a management response, as called for in the report's terms of reference.

The Committee agreed to set up an ad hoc working group to review all the recommendations of the external review, which will present its findings to the Committee at the next session of the CDIP, scheduled for May 2012.

Flexibilities, Millennium Development Goals also feature in CDIP discussions

The Future Work Program on Flexibilities in the Intellectual Property System also drew attention at the CDIP discussions, with the committee agreeing to create a database of national legislations relating to flexibilities in all areas of intellectual property. Members also decided to share their experiences on the use of flexibilities on a voluntary basis.

The WIPO Secretariat will now continue the work on flexibilities and compile the proposals by different countries into a single document and present it to the next session of the Committee.

The Committee also reviewed a report on WIPO's contribution to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); the report recommended that WIPO develop a closer relationship with the MDG task force and improve its results-based management framework to take the MDGs into better consideration.

In their opening statement, the African Group noted that "the findings of the report necessitate WIPO to implement them urgently, considering the overall assessment of the MDGs implementation is in four years' time."

The CDIP also reviewed progress reports on the implementation of the 16 ongoing DA projects, while approving three new projects on technology transfer, the informal economy, and public domain. It also agreed to examine at its next session a project on the audiovisual sector in Africa, which was proposed by Burkina Faso.

Finally, the CDIP received and examined for the first time a report from the WIPO General Assembly containing the submissions by other WIPO committees and bodies. The submissions centred on these committees' and bodies' contributions to the implementation of the WIPO DA recommendations.

ICTSD reporting.

[Editor's note: This version has been corrected to properly reflect the reactions of the EU, US to the external review. The previous version misstated the nature of these reactions. 9:52 PM, Thursday 24 November]

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