What to expect from the 2013 WIPO General Assembly

As we move towards the second half of September, we also mover ever closer to the Forty-Third (21st Ordinary) General Assembly of the Member States of WIPO. Meetings will take place in Geneva between September 23 to October 2, 2013. In an effort to prepare for this event, we have put together a small guide highlighting some of what observers might expect to see unfold and-or presented at this year’s assembly.

Appointment of the Director General in 2014

Near the top of the agenda at this year’s assembly is the announcement of the expiry of the Director General’s term of office at the end of September, 2014. This sparks the beginning of an election process which will span until the appointment of a Director General, projected to occur at the beginning of May, 2014. A circular was sent out on September 6th to WIPO Member States inviting the proposal of candidates. Candidatures will be accepted until December 6th of this year, and according to the procedures outlined by the WIPO Secretariat, nominees’ names and curricula vitae will be shared with members as soon as they are received, with a final document including all nominees’ information shared immediately following the nominations deadline.

Although Current Director General Francis Gurry is said to be running for re-election, early speculations suggest that some competition might be brewing for the post, with Geoffrey Onyeama, the Current Deputy Director General for the Development Sector, named as an early possible competitor. For a more information about the upcoming elections, see global memo’s article, and check back to this website periodically for more information about potential candidates and the electoral race as events occur.

 Budget revisions and Administrative manners

The 2013 General Assembly will undertake a number of important administrative tasks such as electing a new Coordination Committee and a new Program and Budget Committee. Attending member states will review the past year’s financial statements, as well as the proposed program and Budget for the 2014-15 Biennium. They are also expecting to receive progress reports on the following administration-related projects:

  • the Implementation of a Comprehensive Integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System,
  • various construction projects currently being conducted on WIPO buildings,
  • the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capital Investment Project,
  • and the Implementation of the WIPO Language Policy, which hopes to harmonize and lower the costs of translation services within the organization.

Reports from WIPO Committees 

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities

At this year’s event we can also expect to see a number of interesting reports and treaties presented for the general assembly’s consideration. The first report we can look forward to is on the outcome of the  Diplomatic Conference on the Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities (also referred to as the Marrakesh Treaty), which took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, from June 18 to 28, 2013. A summary of the Proceedings and outcomes of the conference will be presented for review by member states along with the contents of the Marrakesh treaty. The treaty was officially opened to signature on June 28, 2013. As of July 31st, 2013, 51 states have signed on, and it will remain open for signature at the headquarters of WIPO until June 27, 2014. Member states will be encouraged to, and given the opportunity to sign the new treaty during the General Assembly on September 27th.

For a list of all countries who have currently signed the Marrakesh Treaty, and to read the new treaty in its entirety please see the Report on the Outcome of the Diplomatic Conference on a Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities, prepared by the WIPO Secretariat.

Report from the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) and Review of the Implementation of the Development Agenda Recommendations

The CDIP will review their progress made during the 2012-13 period, in regards to several ongoing projects both within their own committee and in relation to the overall organization on issues such as socio-economic development, patent laws and access to knowledge across the digital divide. Since the WIPO  Development Agenda was established in 2010, development issues have become an organization-wide priority, with several “relevant bodies” responsible for describing their own contributions to the forty-five recommendations spelled out by the Development Agenda. Some disagreements have taken place over the past year as to what should qualify as “relevant bodies,” an issue which may come up for further discussion during the assembly. An ongoing discussion has also been taking place over the past year in regards to WIPO’s role in contributing to the implementation of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and whether there was a further need to integrate these goals into the existing objectives of the organization.

Finally, a conference titled the “International Conference on Intellectual Property and Development” will take place during the last half of 2013;details as to dates and scheduled speakers should be presented to the General Assembly.

Consideration of the convening of a Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Design Law Treaty

Discussions are scheduled this year over the creation and possible adoption of a new international Design Law Treaty by the SCT. A progress report is to be made to the general assembly, where they will review the progress made over the past year, and will be asked to make a decision on whether or not to convene a diplomatic conference for the adoption of a Design Law Treaty in 2014.

Matters Relating to the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)

The SCCR has been busy working on a number of ongoing projects this past year, and we can hope to hear about a number of them at this year’s assembly. On top of their latest success, the Marrakesh Treaty, which was adopted this June, this committee has been working on potential international treaties designed to protect broadcasting organizations, as well as to extent exceptions to libraries and archives. The SCCR is scheduled to present a working document for the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations, as well as an update on their recent progress at this year’s GA, so that a decision might be made as to whether or not a diplomatic conference should be convened in 2014. Other projects in the works at the SCCR that we can hope to hear more about include a potential treaty addressing limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, as well as one addressing limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and persons with other disabilities. The SCCR hopes to have recommendations for submission to the general assembly on both projects over the next two years.

Matters Concerning the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC)

A progress report will also be made at the general assembly this year in regards to the current discussions surrounding the protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore. A preliminary version of this potential legal instrument with alternative phrasings has currently been submitted for review by the general assembly, and can be seen here. The general assembly will be asked to discuss these matters further, and make a decision as to whether or not it would like to convene a diplomatic conference on the matter in 2014.

A number of other issues and treaties will also be addressed during this year’s assembly, and a preliminary agenda of this year’s meetings is currently available on the WIPO website. As the 2013 GA approaches, we will continue to bring you updated schedules and information about this year’s proceedings.