WIPO Committee Adopts Development Agenda Coordination Mechanism

5 May 2010

The fifth session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) at the World Intellectual Property Organization ended on Friday with a significant breakthrough: delegates agreed on a coordination mechanism for the implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda (DA).

The CDIP oversees the implementation of the 45 WIPO Development Agenda recommendations, which were adopted in 2007 with the aim of integrating development concerns into all of WIPO's activities, from norm setting to technical assistance.,

On the first day of the meeting, Egypt announced the creation of the Development Agenda Group (DAG), a coalition of 18 developing countries that want to ensure the effective implementation of the WIPO DA. Two more countries (Syria and Zimbabwe) had joined the DAG by the end of the session.

The most significant issue during this session's deliberations was the issue of "coordination mechanisms and monitoring, assessing and reporting modalities" for the implementation of the Development Agenda. Two proposals have been put forward since last year. One came from a group of "like-minded" developing countries - Algeria, Brazil and Pakistan and later supported by India, Egypt and Mozambique. This proposal suggested that the CDIP "convene special sessions for coordination, monitoring and assessing the implementation of the Development Agenda." It also called for "a regular biennial review" by a group of independent IP experts nominated by member states. India pointed out that simple reporting by the Secretariat was not a substitute for member-driven and external review.

Another proposal was advanced by Switzerland on behalf of developed countries. It suggested that the CDIP should be at the same level as all other WIPO committees, with the General Assembly being the overarching body. It agreed that the creation of an audit mechanism was essential to ensure transparency but opposed institutionalising an audit body in the CDIP. The proposal also emphasised the need to ensure that no new financial burden was imposed as a result of the mechanism envisaged; it suggested having a single independent review in 2015.

After prolonged informal negotiations throughout the week, a consensual text was agreed on the last day. It was decided that no new special coordination session was to be held but instead that coordination was to be established as a "CDIP standing agenda item," and sufficient time was to be ensured for discussing the coordination mechanism within the CDIP sessions. The agreed coordination text also emphasised the need to "strengthen existing mechanisms within WIPO" and that all "WIPO Committees stand on an equal footing." A compromise regarding the independent review was also reached with a single review to be held at the end of the 2012/2013 biennium with ‘the Terms of Reference and the selection of independent IP and development experts agreed by CDIP'. It was also decided to that "the relevant WIPO bodies" should "include in their annual report to the Assembly a description of their contribution to the implementation of the respective Development Agenda recommendations."

Delegates at the meeting also reached agreement to move forward on a number of thematic projects aimed to act on several DA recommendations. One such project will examine IP and the public domain, with the goal of deepening the development benefits of a rich and accessible public domain. A project on technical capacity building was also discussed and agreed upon. It is geared towards promoting the use of appropriate technical and scientific information to address development challenges facing least-developed countries, or LDCs. The project will be implemented in three LDCs.

A project entitled "Intellectual Property and Product Branding and Marketing for Business Development" was also agreed upon. According to a document prepared by the Secretariat, the project will primarily support small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and least-developed countries "in the appropriate use of IP, particularly geographical indications and trademarks in product branding."

The project on IP and socio-economic development, which was presented by WIPO's chief economist, was also discussed and adopted. It consists of a series of studies carried out in developing countries on the relationship between IP protection and various aspects of economic performance. Topics include domestic innovation, the international and national diffusion of knowledge, and institutional features of the IP system and its economic implications. Countries agreed that the project could help policymakers in those countries learn how to design and implement a development-friendly IP regime.

The project on IP and technology transfer, which had been debated at previous sessions, continued to attract divergent views from developed and developing countries. Specifically, members disagreed with regard to definitions, and the terms of reference for the proposed new technology transfer platform. Developed nations once again expressed the need to ensure that the project did not go beyond the WIPO mandate and asked for a "neutral balanced approach." Brazil mentioned the need of the proposal to take into account that technology transfer is specific to each region and cannot be implemented with a "one size fits all" approach. At the close of the discussions, the secretariat promised to prepare a document that sums the areas of agreement among the different countries. That document will be considered at the next CDIP session.

Developing countries commented widely on a study by the secretariat entitled "Patent Flexibilities in the Multilateral Legal Framework."Some such countries requested a specific focus on health-related flexibilities as well as concrete guidelines on how to implement the flexibilities at the national level. Egypt on behalf of the DAG stated that while the study was "elaborate and insightful" it was still viewed as an evolving document that still requires much work. Developed countries argued that there is a need to ensure the study was "complementary and not overlapping" with discussions in other bodies such as the Standing Committee on Patents (SCP).

While member states welcomed a report by the secretariat on WIPO's contribution to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), developing countries emphasised the need for "concrete empirical evaluation" and "indicators," as the report only provided an overview of the way in which WIPO activities can impact the MDGs. India proposed that UN Rapporteurs on Human Rights - such as the right to food and right to health - might address the next session of the CDIP.

Another hurdle came on the last day of the session with the publication of the guiding principles of the DAG. A number of developed countries as well as Nigeria did not consider the document to be a "working document" of the CDIP as it did not contain specific new proposals. Rather, they argued that it should be considered a more general "information document." After some discussions on the procedural aspects of the submission of documents by member states, it was agreed ultimately that the document will be a working paper of the session.

The sixth session of the CDIP will be held from 22 to 26 November 2010.

ICTSD reporting.

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