Thursday, September 18, 2008

WIPO Development agenda implementation plan to be presented to WIPO General Assembly

The WIPO General Assembly will be asked next week to adopt a work plan for implementing the 19 development agenda recommendations that have been identified for immediate implementation. The plan as currently outlined bears little of the spirit that inspired the Friends of Development and the original proposal of a development agenda at WIPO.

First, the plan to implement development agenda
recommendation 1 on technical assistance: that recommendation read as follows:
WIPO technical assistance shall be, inter alia, 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 Member States and activities should include time frames for completion. In this regard, design, delivery mechanisms and evaluation processes of technical assistance programs should be country specific
The plan outlined in the report seems to consist of two elements: first, to ensure everyone at WIPO is aware of the principles of this recommendation. This is a good thing. Second, the general plan seems to be to increase the bureaucracy of technical assistance: WIPO will "assist" countries in creating national IP plans along the following lines:
project design frameworks will be standardized for WIPO to ensure full project definition and description, quality control and approval processes, objective setting and monitoring activities, risk identification and management, performance and results definition and appraisal. Program evaluation will be undertaken in line with the recently approved WIPO Evaluation Policy.
Some of these things might help to identify true development-related goals. Or, they could just increase bureaucracy.

Also, WIPO will let private partners in to provide technical assistance, through a proposed "partnership database" that would match technical assistance "donors" with developing countries. On this, India made an important comment back in 2005, which has so far gone unheeded:
it was imperative to recognize that private sector partners would have a slight conflict of interest in the sort of advice that they provided: therefore, as the idea of the Delegation of the United States of America [the US originally suggested the partnership database in 2005] was developed further, the meeting could, perhaps, think of balancing or neutralizing the conflict of interest by having a civil society partner as part of a trilateral arrangement. (IIM/2/10 para 129)
Want to keep an eye on all these technical assistance activities? You'll be able long as member states and/or involved partners approve the release of detailed information. Otherwise, you'll just have the general information available on the web site.

Further, a recommendation will be made that WIPO convene a donor conference to get the "bilateral and multilateral donor community (in particular, donor institutions)" involved in the implementation of WIPO's development agenda. This would be a big event soliciting even more private partners.

Remember recommendation 15, that WIPO should "take into consideration the interests and priorities of all WIPO Member States and the viewpoints of other stakeholders" (emphasis added)? Sounds like there is still one stakeholder group that WIPO is especially interested in promoting: in implementing recommendation 4, WIPO will "examine the contribution of the creative sector, as well as underscore its potential as an important constituent in support of policy making." (emphasis added) No mention of the contribution of other sectors. Further to this, WIPO has a plan unrelated to any recommendation contained in the development agenda:
WIPO’s institutional support will be extended not only to national IP offices, but also to other institutions that promote innovative and creative activities such as technology licensing offices in universities, technology promotion institutes, collective management societies and creative industries support institutions. [emphasis added]
Also, following recommendation 3 of the development agenda, there is a big plan to "Raise awareness among all sectors of the society regarding the important role that intellectual property plays in national development."

In summary, the implementation plan for the development agenda so far seems to be:
  • increase bureaucracy
  • set up private partners to "assist" developing countries
  • allow those private partners and member states "assisting" developing countries to operate in relative secrecy if they so desire
  • increase support to the creative/cultural industries and collective licensing agencies
  • generally highlight the wonders that IP does for development
Plans for supporting a robust public domain? Nothing. For further discussing access to knowledge? Not a mention. Promoting the understanding and use of existing IP flexibilities? "Flexibility" does not appear to be in WIPO's lexicon.


  1. Now that you've relaxed that tone of academic detachment that characterized the majority of your posts, and allowed yourself to become entertainingly snarky, this is not the time to stop posting! Post more!

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