Monday, February 19, 2007

New Chair of WIPO Committee dealing with Development Agenda

February 19, 2007
Thiru Balasubramaniam

The WIPO committee (PCDA) overseeing the Development Agenda got off to slow start today commencing at 10:48 AM (48 minutes late) due to several concurrent regional coordination meetings. Brazil, on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) nominated Ambassador Trevor Clarke of Barbados to be chair of the 3rd session of the WIPO. Ambassador Clarke just finished a one year post chair the World Trade Organization (WTO) Council for TRIPS. In his intervention, the Brazilian delegate noted that Ambassador Clarke would be an "excellent choice" and stated that "we trust him fully and he would be a good person to guide us to a positive outcome".

Italy, on behalf of Group B (industrialized nations plus the Holy See), seconded the nomination of Ambassador Clarke and proposed Ambassador Muktar Djumaliev of the Kyrgyz Republic as Vice Chair. Both these nominations were accepted by the WIPO PCDA. The choice of Vice Chair was a curious one considering that the Kyrgyz Republic's submission of 40 proposals ("early harvest") is currently the main agenda item for this week's discussion.

Ambassador Clarke set out a congenial start to the meeting with charming candor noting that
I will be working cautiously because this is a very serious assignment, and one of my friends said that this is because I like punishment. But I'm always to take a challenge, so thanks for the opportunity to do this. To date, I know very little about the PCDA, but I've been talking to as many members as I can to get a feel for what's going on. Let me assure, however, that any contribution I make can only be made with your support. My role is to facilitate dialogue. I come to the Committee with the belief that you want to make progress on the matter that has been under discussion for two and a half years.We need to consider how we proceed this week. One critical issue relates to President Manalo's (Ambassador of the Philippines and Chair of the WIPO General Assembly) initial working document. We should seek your cooperation to use this working document for our discussions this week. The document has been produced by the recommendation or instruction from the GA. It is intended to guide our work this week and then in June.

As Ambassador Clarke had another engagement at 11 AM, he suspended the meeting till 3PM. Before the morning session closed, the WIPO PCDA accepted the requests for ad hoc accreditation from Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and the Yale Information Society Project.

For an overview of some of the issues at stake please check out my colleague Malini's blog post on a KEI brown bag lunch held recently in Washington, D.C.