TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues (Oct17/06)
12 October 2017
Third World Network

WIPO: Informal consultations on external offices continue 

Geneva, 11 October (K M Gopakumar) – Informal consultations to decide on the location of external offices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are still on going at the Assembly of the organization (2 to 11 October).

The informal consultations carried out by the President of the WIPO General Assembly, Ambassador Janis Karklins of Latvia has produced a draft decision text that reads:

Having examined documents A/56/15 and A/57/8;

Having taken into account the 2015 WIPO General Assembly decisions, including the Guiding principles (document A/55/13), and the outcome of the 2016 WIPO General Assembly (A/56/16),

Having taken note of the Chair’s Statement (A/56/17);

The General Assembly decided:

1) to open a WIPO External Office in Colombia in the 2016/17 biennium;

2) to continue consultations in an open, inclusive and transparent manner, under the auspices of the Chair of the WIPO General Assembly, on the opening of External Offices in the 2018/19 biennium, taking into account the 2015 WIPO General Assembly decisions, particularly the Guiding Principles, with the aim of reaching a consensual decision during the 2018 WIPO General Assembly on the opening of three external offices.”

A developing country delegate told Third World Network (TWN) that they need much more certainty with regard to the process.  Another developing country delegate said that countries that made claims for an external office from the same region need to reach a consensus as the first step towards the solution.

This General Assembly session is to decide on the location of an external office (EO) to be opened in the 2016-17 biennium and the locations of three external offices in the following biennium.

The General Assembly while adopting the Guiding Principles Regarding WIPO External Offices in 2015 also adopted the following decisions:

1.     Recognizing the Organization’s limited capacity to open new EOs, and desirous to take a phased and prudent approach when establishing new EOs, to open not more than 3 EOs per biennium for the biennia, 2016-17, 2018-19, subject to approval by the WIPO General Assembly.

2.     This decision is without prejudice to any decision by the Program and Budget Committee and the General Assembly on opening new EOs pursuant to the guiding principles after an evaluation during 2021.

3.     For the period mentioned in paragraph 2, priority should be given to Africa. For this purpose, Member States are encouraged to submit their hosting proposals to be considered under the guiding principles.

In response to this 26 countries notified their intention to host EOs in the 2016-17 biennium. Out of theses 18 countries submitted proposals: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Republic of Korea, Romania, Tunisia and Turkey

The General Assembly in 2016 decided to establish two external offices in Algeria and Nigeria in line with its 2015 decision. However, there was no consensus with regard to the remaining office and the locations of three offices in the 2018-2019 biennium. Therefore the General Assembly decided to continue consultations on the opening of one EO in the current biennium and three in the 2018-2019 biennium, based on a relevant call for proposals made by the Secretariat “with a view to making a decision on the above during the 2017 General Assembly based on the Guiding Principles.”

In 2017, nine more countries submitted their proposal for hosting EOs in 2018-19 biennium: Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Oman, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) unanimously proposed Colombia for hosting an EO in the 2016-17 biennium. The draft text circulated in the afternoon of 11 October proposes the establishment of an EO in Colombia in this biennium, with preference to the Central European and Balkan States (CEBS) region for one office in the 2018-19 biennium. The draft text proposes the following decisions:

·         In the 2016-17 biennium, to open a WIPO External Office in Colombia;

·         Continue consultations under auspices of the Chair of the WIPO General Assembly on the opening of EOs in the 2018-19 biennium, taking into account the 2015 WIPO General Assembly decisions, including the Guiding Principles, as well as the fact that CEBS is the only WIPO region without an EO, aiming at finalising a decision during the 2018 WIPO General Assembly;

·         Request the Director-General, without prejudice to the outcome of the evaluation to be conducted during the 2020-21 biennium, to present a vision of the WIPO EOs’ presence at the 2018 meeting of the Program and Budget Committee.

Currently EOs are located in Japan, Singapore, China, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria and Algeria. If one considers distribution of regional offices based on continents, Asia has three EOs. However, in WIPO’s regional grouping arrangements China is considered in a separate region, Japan belongs to Group B and Singapore is part of the Asia Pacific Group. The highest number of proposals for EO hosting in the 2018-2019 biennium is from Asia: South Korea, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman and UAE.

On 3 October, while replying to the general statements by WIPO members, WIPO Director-General Dr. Francis Gurry stressed the fact that the EOs are a longstanding item on the agenda of the organisation, and EOs add value to WIPO. However, he said the internal discussion on EOs is moving further away from the organization and from the subject of intellectual property. He pleaded to the Member States to focus on discussion and make a choice on the issues.

At the time of writing, the scheduling of informal consultations was not announced; however, Member States are expecting one more draft decision text.+