Monday, September 6, 2010

WIPO transparency threatened

WIPO held its annual Program and Budget Committee meeting last week. The Committee discussed ways that it might better make its meetings and documents available in multiple languages. WIPO operates in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, and also Portuguese under specific conditions. In examining ways to make translation costs more affordable, one of the proposals is to stop producing verbatim reports of its meetings, producing instead only a summary report:
A third measure to reduce translation workload, already adopted by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and WHO, would consist in replacing the current costly practice of preparing verbatim reports with summary records to be generally limited to approximately 30 pages (compared with 100 to 250 pages for verbatim reports). They would be limited to statements of fact (agenda, participants) and a record of decisions and recommendations. The Secretariat estimates that this measure would enable the overall volume of reports to be reduced by some 70 percent or around 1360 pages per year.
Instead, a recording system would replace the verbatim reports:
In the current biennium, a new digital conference room recording system will replace the present analog system. Upon final installation and testing of the new system, changes to the reporting method may be proposed by the Secretariat that will include the digital recording of proceedings to replace the current practice of preparing verbatim reports. This same system could be extended to the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO for which the elimination of verbatim reporting combined with electronic records of interventions could result in considerable savings that could be further used towards extended language coverage.
Unless the digital recordings are made publicly available, as the verbatim reports of meetings currently are, WIPO is in danger of sacrificing a great deal the transparency from which it derives its legitimacy as against other forums. Without proper records of meetings, scholars, NGOs, and those unable to attend the meetings will be unable to properly follow WIPO activities.

Multilingualism is extremely important for WIPO and all international organizations, and is a challenge for all. WIPO is very good at finding money for all kinds of projects. There is no reason for transparency to be sacrificed in the name of multilingualism; both transparency and multilingualism are core features of international legitimacy.


  1. Good analysis.

    "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

    There are some interests who would prefer less transparency here. This would conveniently serve their agenda.

    WIPO has no shortage of money for the things it actually wants to do.

  2. WIPO is one of the most corrupt organizations. Including its delegates, Executive Directors and so on. The only thing that worries their delegates is if they can come and go to Geneva when is most suitable to them with all cost paid. They are also very interested to get themselves a job within the organization. A lot of positions are given without being advertise and no selection process do take place. Money is wasted and no record is kept.