IP Justice Report
on the 2nd IIM of the
WIPO Development Agenda
20-22 June 2005
Debate on Proposals to Reform WIPO
Friends of Development Coalition
Maintains Strong Front Against US/UK/EU
By IP Justice Executive Director Robin D.
Background on the Development Agenda and Call for Reform at WIPO
IP Justice was one of a handful of public-interest
accredited to participate at the Development Agenda meetings at the
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a UN Specialized Agency this
summer. The Development Agenda is
a proposal adopted by WIPO's General Assembly to reform WIPO's tendency
blindly increase intellectual property rights without consideration of
public interest or the social costs of those expanded rights.
After WIPO's General Assembly adopted the proposal
in fall 2004, three meetings were scheduled for the summer 2005 to
proposal and make recommendations to the General Assembly in fall 2005. The first Intergovernmental
Intercessional Meeting (IIM) was held from 13-15 April 2005. The second IIM was held 20-22 June
2005, and the third and final IIM is scheduled for 20-22 July 2005 in
The first IIM debate focused on the process and
the forthcoming discussions. Due
largely to delay tactics by WIPO's Secretariat and developed countries,
until the middle of the second IIM did any substantive discussion take
regarding the Development Agenda.
At the second IIM session, IP Justice provided a floor
paper supporting the Development Agenda and IP Justice delivered an
statement during the meeting on 20 June 2005.
The 14-country coalition of developing countries,
Brazil and Argentina, called the "Friends of Development"
advocated for the Development
Agenda as further elaborated in their proposal of 6
2005. The US proposed
an agenda that calls for only minor and technical reform at WIPO, and
provided another submission
supporting the US view on the Development Agenda.
At the Second IIM, Bahrain
curiously submitted a proposal praising WIPO and advocating for the
on the Development Agenda. However,
soon after Bahrain's proposal was published, its legitimacy was called
since the King of Bahrain had recently signed the "Doha
Action" an agreement reached by the Heads of State and Government
Group of 77 and China that pledged support for the proposals contained
Friends of Development proposal.
Battle to Set Discussion for the Development Agenda:
Despite WIPO/US Stalling, Friends of
Begin Substantive Debate
The Second IIM opened with confusion regarding the
of the ensuing debate. WIPO's
Secretariat proposed an agenda for discussion that consisted of 4
and Possible Topics".
The Secretariat's proposal for discussion lacked any of the
proposals adopted by the General Assembly last fall or any subsequent
made by Member Countries. In what
appeared to be an effort to stall any substantive discussion on
proposals, the Secretariat's agenda consisted of only dozens of general
for possible discussion.
A number of Member Countries including India,
the African Group, Argentina, Iran, Pakistan, and South Africa
complained about the unproductive discussion agenda, and instead called
debate on specific action-oriented proposals that had been on the table
months. The US led the other side
of this debate, advocating for no discussion of substantive proposals,
rather general discussion of possible clusters of issues as proposed by
with support from the UK, Switzerland, and the European Union.
Brazil and the Friends of Development eventually
important and hard fought battle, because in the afternoon of the
second day of
the meeting, the discussion agenda
was re-set to focus on specific action-oriented proposals already
Member Countries as well as a few new proposals by the United States,
and a coalition of Arab states.
But already, one-and-a-half-days of the three-day meeting had
wasted on debating the Secretariat's proposal for clusters of topics
substantive discussion on the Development Agenda could take place.
Had the US and the WIPO Secretariat been
setting the agenda as general topic discussions, it would have
assured that no concrete proposals could be made in time for the final
to the General Assembly, and thus the Development Agenda would have
been "dead in the water" at this meeting.
With only one scheduled meeting to go, it remains
to be seen
whether the coalition of developing countries will be able to fend off
by the US and the Secretariat to further derail discussion in order to
concrete proposals for a Development Agenda to the General Assembly by
July 2005 deadline.
Specific Proposals to Reform WIPO Debated at 2nd IIM
One of the controversial issues debated was
should create an independent WIPO Research and Evaluation Office (WERO) to assess the impact on
WIPO's activities and report directly to the General Assembly. The US/UK were staunchly against the
creation of WERO and instead proposed that an existing body, the
Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual
(PCIPD) deal with all development issues at WIPO. Developing
countries suggested that relegating development
concerns to PCIPD was analogous to "dumping them in a trash can", where
action or reform could take place.
Another important action item for the Development
Agenda is amending
WIPO's mandate to make it
closely with the humanitarian objectives of the United Nations. Developing countries have expressed
frustration by WIPO's growing focus on promoting private business
the expense of the general public welfare.
The Chair of the Secretariat, Rigoberto Gauto
Vielman, the Ambassador from Paraguay,
stated that WIPO's objectives are "to promote the protection of
property throughout the world."
The US delegation agreed, frankly stating that, "WIPO is for promoting
This objective sharply clashes with Article 1 of
agreement with the United Nations, which states its objective: "for
creative intellectual activity and for facilitating the transfer of
related to industry property to the developing countries in order to
economic, social, and cultural development ...".
A clarification is needed regarding WIPO's proper
to prevent it from working against the greater humanitarian goals of
Nations. As a UN Agency, WIPO's
primary obligation is to promote the public interest, a principle that
re-infused in all WIPO norms and activities. Indeed,
the growing subordination of public to private
interests at WIPO gives the United Nations a black eye and undermines
credibility as a humanitarian organization.
Led by India, developing countries argued that
property should not be viewed as an end in and of itself, but rather
pursued as a means to promote the greater social good.
They called for an end to the
"strong IP culture" at WIPO that
works toward increasing intellectual property rights without any
the social costs associated with the expanded rights.
Brazil cited WIPO's current initiative on patents, which
does not take development goals into account at all.
The Canadian delegation admitted that proposals made by
developed countries in fact go beyond existing international
intellectual property rights.
Developing countries also overwhelming support the
to Knowledge Treaty that
would ensure more widespread access to
textbooks, library and educational materials so sorely needed in the
Apparently frustrated and forgetting Swiss
Swiss delegate boldly asserted that developing countries are themselves
"standing in the way of their own development" by supporting the
Development proposal, and that "civil society misunderstands
property." Imperialism is alive
and well at WIPO.
Brazil articulated the need for flexibility in
intellectual property rights with a country's particular economic and
needs, a point supported by many developing countries throughout the
meeting. WIPO's current approach
of "one size fits all" (XL) for setting IP rights among nations will
increase the gap in access to knowledge and medicines between developed
Another issue debated was WIPO's need to include
society participation from
groups in the discussions. Brazil
noted that rightsholders groups have dominated at WIPO, but
all stakeholders, including consumers is needed to create balanced laws. Brazil suggested that WIPO should hold
public hearings on matters prior to creating proposals for new IP laws. WIPO does not presently have any
means of receiving general public input regarding its processes and
With little public accountability and
Secretariat has been able to drive the discussion on many topics for
little interference from opposing views.
Member Countries resoundingly called for WIPO to become more member-driven, a necessary component to all legitimate
bodies. The lack of transparency
in WIPO's work plan and strategic vision was also widely criticized
debate by developing countries.
The US delegation flatly stated its opposition to
Friends of Development proposal, claiming that, "development must not
pretext for diluting international IPR regimes." The
US stated it was against adopting principles and
guidelines for norm-setting activities at WIPO, and against the
undertake independent evidence-based development impact assessments. The US also recorded its objection to
the proposal to hold public hearings prior to the initiation of
One technique used frequently in the debate by
the Development Agenda was to mischaracterize the debate as being
intellectual property rights" or "against intellectual property rights". The US, UK, Switzerland, and the EU
waxed on repeatedly about the benefits of intellectual property rights
any acknowledgement of their social costs and accusing those who call
balance as "anti-IP".
Despite the simplistic rhetoric, the Development
not about undermining intellectual property rights per se, but rather,
ensuring that the scope and level of the rights are set appropriately. Rather than address the merits of
specific proposals for reform, the strategy of the developed countries
is to attack
the motives of the developing countries and to mischaracterize the
Agenda as "anti-intellectual property", something analogous to
"anti-motherhood" at WIPO.
Looking Ahead to 3rd IIM:
Recommendations to the General Assembly
On the afternoon of the final day of the 2nd
the WIPO Secretariat unexpectedly proposed ending discussion an hour
than scheduled, but a number of countries objected to the proposal and
that the substantive discussions be allowed to continue until the
of the meeting at 6pm on 22 June 2005.
The 2nd IIM ended with no real
it was only in the beginning of the substantive debate on the
Agenda. A Summary
Chair was adopted on 22 June 2005 that lists 25 specific proposals
continued debate at the 3rd IIM on 20-22 July 2005 in Geneva. Also, the Secretariat stated that new
proposals may be received prior to the 3rd IIM for debate at
final meeting as well.
A Draft Report of the 2nd IIM will be
the Secretariat and made available on WIPO's website by 4 July 2005. Comments on the Draft Report must be
submitted in writing by 11 July, and the revised Draft Report will then
available and adopted at the beginning of the 3rd IIM
20-22 July 2005.
At the conclusion of the 3rd IIM,
Countries should adopt specific recommendations to the General Assembly
Development Agenda at WIPO. The
final reports of the three IIM sessions together with the draft
recommendations will constitute "the Report to the General Assembly" as
mandated by the General Assembly in the fall of 2004.