Analytical Note, August 2004

Integrating Development into WIPO Activities and Processes: Strategies for the 2004 WIPO Assemblies.

The fortieth Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will take place in Geneva from 27 September to 5 October 2004.1 The Assemblies will address various matters including issues currently under negotiation in various WIPO committees and bodies. In particular, the Assemblies will be asked to debate and or provide direction on issues crucial to developing countries and development friendly civil society organizations. Subjects such as the future of the Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) negotiations, the inter-linkages between the different fora addressing the issues of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, the protection of broadcasting organizations and enforcement, all which raise important questions from a development perspective, are among the issues on the agenda. Although in general developing countries and civil society organizations have in the last couple of years become increasingly involved and influential in a number of WIPO committees and working groups, their effective participation at the WIPO Assemblies remains a challenge.

WIPO has had a fairly busy year so far compared to the World Trade Organization’s Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). The intense negotiations and or discussions that have characterized a number of WIPO committees, including the discussions/negotiations at the Sixth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) in March; at the Tenth Session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) in May; at the Sixth Session of the Working Group of the Reform of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) also in May; at Eleventh Session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) in June; and at the Second Session of the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) also in June, among others, provide an important backdrop to the discussions at the Assemblies.

The scenario that emerges from these negotiations and discussions at WIPO is a complex one and one which indicates that developing countries are likely to face significant challenges at the Assemblies. The challenges not only relate to coordinating strategies and positions with respect to issues arising across various fora in WIPO but also in tackling the various substantive issues that will be addressed at the Assemblies.

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