WIPO General Assembly (May 2020): KEI statement on the appointment of Daren Tang as Director General of WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is convening an extraordinary session of the WIPO General Assembly from May 7, 2020 to May 8, 2020; the purpose of this extraordinary session of the General Assembly is to appoint Mr. Daren Tang (Singapore) as Director General for a term from October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2026. Due to the exigent circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting is being conducted in the form of a written procedure. WIPO member states and observers were invited to provide statements to be recorded in the official report of the WIPO General Assembly. Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) submitted the following statement for the record.

Statement of Knowledge Ecology International – Sixtieth Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO (WIPO Assemblies)

7 May 2020

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) congratulates Mr. Daren Tang on his appointment as Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Mr. Tang will head the UN agency that is responsible for shaping intellectual property norms and practices in ways that serve the public, including marginalized communities. In recent years, WIPO has moved some of its negotiations into off-the-record informals, making it more difficult for the public to know what their national delegations favor in this UN forum, and we are troubled by this drift toward less transparency and less accountability for national negotiators.

WIPO has failed to introduce economic analysis into its core activities. For example, there is no analysis of the economic impact of the proposal for a new broadcasting treaty, on the distribution of income between artists, performers and the public, on the one hand, and owners of broadcasting organizations on the other, as well as on the waste associated with orphaned works, and additional transaction costs to consolidate rights and reduced access to creative works.

The Director General should modernize policy analysis at WIPO, engage with civil society, and resist the relentless pressure from rent-seeking rightholder lobbies to turn WIPO back into a captured institution.

WIPO needs to provide useful and timely advice to countries struggling to address intellectual property barriers in the development, expanded manufacturing and access to new services and products to prevent and treat COVID-19 related illnesses. The new COVID 19 IP tracker is a start, but more can be done. The Director General should address this issue, in the context of the need to scale manufacturing capacity and provide affordable access to all of relevant technologies.