The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a special agency of the United Nations mandated to aid and promote the use of intellectual property (IP) as a means of stimulating innovation and creativity.The organization is currently made up of 186 Member States (90% of the world’s countries), who, making up the General Assembly of WIPO, are responsible for determining the strategic direction and activities of WIPO, and honoring the mandate, functions and agreed procedures which are sketched out in the WIPO Convention.
Every year, near the end of September, WIPO members come together in Geneva for what is called the General Assembly. This year will mark the fifty-first series of meetings, and will take place in Geneva from September 23 to October 2, 2013.
Over the course of ten days, delegates from member states will come together to discuss a variety of important matters, and make decisions which will determine the direction of the organization and initiatives to be undertaken over the next year. Topics range from administrative and budgetary decisions, to the composition of different committees, to treaties, conferences and other proposals brought forwards for review by committees. For a preview of what will be discussed at this year’s GA, see our previous post here, or see the WIPO GA agenda here.
During this time, delegates from all member states are encouraged to voice their opinions or ideas on any of the agenda items up for discussion. This creates a forum in which countries are given the opportunity to hold a voice in determining the future of IP law. A variety of Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO) as well as National or International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) are also invited to attend the proceedings with the title of observer. Organizations with this status can attend all WIPO meetings which they deem of direct interest for the goals or purposes of that organization. A complete list of those IGOs and NGOs which are admitted to this year’s general assembly can be found in the annex of the document here.
The entire proceedings will be made available to the public through webcast, hosted on the WIPO website. This is a great opportunity for interested individuals or parties to find out first-hand the current stances and belief of their country, in relation to the variety of important IP issues which will be discussed during this year’s meetings. The WIPO webcasting services can be found on this page, along with an archive of past meetings.