The outgoing General Assembly Chair, Enrique Manalo (Ambassador, Philippines) commenced the 43th session of the WIPO General Assembly at 10:23 AM (Central European Time). Ambassador Manalo highlighted the success of Development Agenda negotiations as a hallmark of his tenure as Chair over the course of 2 years.
It is a full house today with non-governmental organizations sequestered into Room B. Given the political significance of the WIPO General Assembly, many Ambassadors are here in person heading their respective delegations. One advantage of watching the proceedings from Room B is all speakers can be viewed under the sharp gaze of the WIPO video cameras. The Director-General, Kamil Idris, sporting a non-confrontational, blue “ton sur ton” tie and shirt ensemble duly congratulated Ambassador Manalo for his outstanding work over the course of his 2 year term.
The Nigerian Ambassador, Martin Ilhoeghian Uhomoibhi was nominated by acclamation after being nominated by Poland and seconded by the Brazilian Ambassador Clodoaldo Hugueney and the US Ambassador Warren Tichenor.
One interesting document handed out (but not yet available online on the WIPO website) is a paper entitled “Brief note on Allegations against the Organization and its Director General” (A/43/INF/8)”. It is a 3 and a half page document with 22 paragraphs. Choice extracts are included below.
Currently there is an impasse on the agenda. The African Group and Iran want to delete item number 12 “WIPO Internal Audit Report Number IAOD/INV/2006/2 of November 2006, and Appropriate Follow-up Thereto” while the United States is insisting on its inclusion on the agenda as the US maintains that ” are allegations of violation of staff rules and ethical rules that need to be addressed” within the Assembly. The Chair (Uhomoibhi) has called for a recess meeting with group coordinators to resolve this problem. Delegates, NGOS, industry lobbyists and journalists are waiting in the corridors waiting to see how this drama unfolds.
1. The present note provides clarifications pertaining to a series of reported allegations and rumors concerning the Organization and its Director General. It is established at the request of a number of Member States.
2. Some are vesting relentless efforts in their attempts to destabilize this Organization and derail it from the substantive issues it is intended to pursue. This campaign started some three years ago. Since that time, WIPO has had to face one enquiry after another…
9. ….At that time, there were rumor circulating, including one about the Directo General’s non-existing swimming pool allegedly financed by WIPO; a mysterious story of an unnamed, corrupt staff member that the Director General is said to have protected; another perplexing one about an employee on WIPO’s payroll at the private service of the Director General; and some others. The external investigation report of Ernst & Young categorically stated that it could not conclude that certain employees of WIPO and third parties concerned committed fraud or dishonest acts.
10. Nevertheless, the deliberate intention to harass the Organization and its Director General remained on the agenda of a few. This was conducted without distinction and even to the extent of attempting to associate the Organization with the United Nations “oil for food” question.
12. As regards the age of the Director General, he was born in 1954 and not in 1945…
14. The allegations that the Director General would have sought to “profit” from this error are unfounded…
15. As to the academic credentials of the Director General, in order not to leave room for further doubt or speculation, the Director General has obtained all the academic degrees he had declared to have received at the time of his recruitment by WIPO and subsequently…It is very saddening that these credentials were in turn called into question and indeed pointless when the facts are most easy to establish.
22. Most recently, the Director General was informed that he had apparently sent an envoy, from among WIPO staff, to approach Permanent Missions in Geneva to advise them that he intended to step down by the end of the year 2007. To date, the Director General is not aware of the identity of this envoy, nor of the circumstances that led to this misrepresentation.