Exact dates have now been confirmed in relation to WIPO’s much anticipated Extraordinary General Assembly. Member States will convene from December 10 to 12, 2013, in the hopes of finalizing discussions on a number of issues which proved too difficult to resolve during GA meetings earlier this fall.
A draft agenda has appeared on the WIPO website, highlighting those points which will be the focus of renewed negotiation and discussion. The major Items which remain open for discussion during this shortened series of meetings are as follows:
- Decision by the General Assembly in Relation to the Coordination Committee Decision on External Offices Taken During its Sixty-seventh (44th Ordinary) Session
- Proposed Program and Budget for the 2014/15 Biennium
- General Policies of WIPO Concerning Governance of External Offices
- Governance at WIPO
- Consideration of the Convening of a Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Design Law Treaty
- Matters Relating to the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)
- Reports on Other WIPO Committees: Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS)
Each of these items are of considerable importance for the organization, but perhaps most pressing matter will be the renewed discussions over the proposed program and budget for the next biennium. Finalizing budget discussions in mid-December leaves them with precious little time to sort out their differences, and very little wiggle room should these meetings fall short of their expectations. The current budget will come to an end at the conclusion of this calendar year.
Two other documents are currently up for Member States to take note of, one being a proposal by China relating to “General Policies of WIPO concerning Governance of External Offices.” Given that the announcement of new external offices, as well as the somewhat unclear location selection process of these offices where both rather large points of contention during this year’s general assembly, the existence of such a proposal is hardly surprising. China suggests in the proposal document that this topic be made its own separate agenda item, so as to help streamline the assemblies’ current work, and avoid creating new issues during the upcoming meetings in December. This proposal, should it be adopted, will hopefully help to keep discussions of Governance at WIPO on track, and avoid some of the pitfalls which slowed the last set of meetings to a halt surrounding this topic. As of the latest copy of the draft agenda, it does indeed seem that the secretariat has made this issue into its own agenda topic.
The other document recently added to this short list is another proposal: “Proposal by the Group of Latin American and the Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) relating to Program 20 of the proposed Program and Budget for the 2014/15 Biennium.” This document serves to reiterate an amendment previously circulated for consideration at this year’s general assembly about the locations of the new upcoming WIPO external offices, and how they believe these offices should be distributed across continents and Member States.
A successful or unsatisfactory closure to these meetings could prove to be a telling moment for the current WIPO administration, now gearing up for elections this spring. The selected timing of these meetings will perhaps be most notable, as the deadline for Member States to propose new candidates for the position of Director General of WIPO is December 6th, placing these sessions at the beginning of what will surely be an interesting and complex campaign trail to 2014.