Monday, April 16, 2007

Pre-Development Agenda Meeting In Singapore

Thiru Balasubramaniam
16 April 2007

The Government of Singapore will host a pre-Development Agenda meeting from 30 May to 1 June 2007. The meeting is being convened by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) with invitations being signed by Ms. Liew Woon Yin, Director-General (IPOS).

According to the invitation which was sent out on 29 March 2007, the Singaporean Government is encouraged by positive outcomes achieved in the 3rd Session of the Provisional Committee On Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA). In order to "ensure that the PCDA succeeds in its endeavor, to submit a report to the General Assembly, later this year", Singapore considers it imperative that the 71 proposals on the table (including establishing a Treaty on Access to Knowledge and fostering discussion on a Medical R&D Treaty), be "examined intensively and a proper understanding developed" prior to the 4th Session of the PCDA which takes places from 11-15 June 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland. This initiative appears similar in spirit to the New Delhi pre-Development Agenda of February 2007 where key stakeholders were invited to frame a common consensus. It remains to be seen how this informal meeting of selected governments will tackle the thornier elements of Annex B of 71 proposals related to a Development Agenda.

The importance attached to achieving a favorable result at the PCDA meeting in June is evidenced by Singapore's remark in the invitation letter that the

process to establish a WIPO Development Agenda has attracted considerable attention the world over and has raised the expectation of the world IP community, particularly developing countries.

As the Singapore informal is intended to be representative, invitations have been extended to developing and industrialized countries and transition economies. In order to achieve geographic balance, it is understood that the regional coordinator will be requested to nominate representatives (either at the capital level or the Geneva level) to attend the meeting. It appears that WIPO will fund the travel monies for officials from developing countries and transition countries. Since this meeting "informal", it is unlikely that there will be any representation from NGOs although this is not explicilty mentioned in the invitation letter. As the future success of the Development Agenda is at stake at the June PCDA meeting, the bar is set high for the Singapore informal to pave the way for WIPO to truly integrate the development dimension.