Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) General Statement at 4th Session of WIPO PCDA

11 June 2007

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) congratulates you Ambassador Clarke on your re-election as Chair.

This meeting of the PCDA will address a number of proposals to change WIPO.   Among the most important are those that would have WIPO do more empirical analysis of the actual and potential impacts of different intellectual property policies, practices and norm setting activities on development, as well as on innovation and global social welfare. This is needed at WIPO, and is indeed, something that any serious UN agency should embrace. The European Union is doing this.  The United States government is beginning to do this.  OECD is beginning to do this.  Several developing nations are doing this.

We recognize that WIPO's current contributions in this area are not zero. But they are inadequate, and the development agenda discussions are the first real opportunity to have a serious conversation about this can be improved, so that WIPO can gain more creditability, and respect, among serious experts and stakeholders.

One of the thorny issues for such analysis concerns the relationship between WIPO as an institution, and the member states. We all know that economic studies, while useful, can also be subject to all sorts of manipulations. So how can WIPO organize itself so that members are comfortable with the process, and the process is perceived to be both fair, and useful?

KEI suggests that WIPO develop a serious capacity to respond to requests from member states for analysis. The most political and sensitive issue of analysis is in the way that questions are asked.  Framing the questions is important.  Once the questions are framed, WIPO should be able to provide timely responses. These need not always be exhaustive research reports, but they should at least provide information gleaned from existing academic research, and through the collection of data.  The answers to the questions can be peer reviewed, so they can be held to high standards.  In summary, the member states should be able to frame questions as they wish, and WIPO should be a resource for data that helps answer these questions. This entire process should be transparent, with both the questions and the answers available to the public.

On a different topic, the PCDA has before it many suggestions for norm setting activities dealing with the needs of consumers. For example, there are proposals to have WIPO consider a treaty on access to knowledge.  As a UN agency, it is very important that WIPO make progress on this suggestion.  Access to knowledge is important for development, and it is important for innovation.

WIPO has not yet had a real conversation about what such a treaty might look like.  There have been several multi-stakeholder meetings to discuss such a treaty, including most recently one held at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt.  WIPO should have regional meetings to discuss the possibility of a treaty on access to knowledge, and it should either discuss this proposal in the SCP and SCCR, or through a special committee, like the PCDA.

On 23 May 2007 (nearly three weeks ago), the 60th World Health Assembly, the highest governing body of the World Health Organization, WIPO's sister agency tasked in the UN family with international health, took a bold step to change the way the WHO and Member States deal with innovation and access. The World Health Assembly adopted language that requests the WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to encourage the development of proposals for health-needs driven R&D, including those "addressing the linkage between paying for the cost of R&D and the prices" of medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tools and other health care products.

This sea change evidenced at the WHO and by its constituent Member States on new paradigms of reconciling innovation and access is also reflected in some of the provisions of Annex B which call upon WIPO to consider discussions on complementary systems to intellectual property including, as mentioned above, a treaty on access to knowledge, as well as a Treaty on Medical R&D, and systems of free and open licenses and creative commons, and the promotion of models based on open collaborative projects to develop public goods, as exemplified by the Human Genome Project and Open Source Software.

The PCDA has to find a way for these conversations to move forward, in WIPO.

Thank you.