Statement by Peter Mulrean
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva
at the WIPO Program and Budget Committee
September 11, 2012
The United States thanks the Secretariat for providing the Program Performance Report for 2010-2011 and the IAOD Validation Report on the PPR, contained in documents WO/PBC/19/2 and WO/PBC/19/3, respectively. While my comments are not necessarily specific to the PPR and the validation thereof, I would like to make some general comments regarding WIPO’s role and its importance to the United States, and to address some recent activities that have raised our concern with respect to how the organization provides technical assistance to Member States. In addition, Deborah Lashley-Johnson from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will address a specific concern regarding an expert panel report on IP and Health.
The challenges of protecting intellectual property require a strong partnership with international organizations whose comparative advantages lie in their global reach and inclusiveness. That is why the United States wants to ensure that WIPO remains a viable organization that continues to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world, not only for U.S. companies and U.S. individuals, but for all those whose creativity produces intellectual property of one kind or another.
But part of remaining a viable partner is ensuring that the resources provided by Member States and fees collected from the businesses, institutions, and individuals of Member States have an appropriate level of oversight, accountability, and transparency.
This is why the U.S. is very concerned that WIPO conducted technical assistance projects and transferred U.S.-developed technology to countries subject to UN Security Council sanctions without the knowledge of the United States, other Member States, or the appropriate UN Security Council sanctions committees. The United States is primarily concerned with three questions: what happened, how to correct it, and how to prevent it in the future.
We believe that WIPO and Member States need to consider very seriously ways to improve oversight, transparency and accountability mechanisms, and to put in place safeguards that ensure Member States and the relevant UN Security Council sanction committees are properly consulted in the future before projects in countries subject to UN Security Council sanctions are approved.
The United States welcomes that WIPO has made available on line the recently completed Independent External Review Report on Technical Assistance Provided to Countries Subject to United Nations Sanctions. We are studying the report and its recommendations. We look forward to hearing how the organization plans to implement the recommendations in a timely and meaningful manner, as well as any other steps it plans to address the serious issues raised in the report.
In our own review of the situation, we believe that WIPO needs to put in place new comprehensive and durable safeguards that:
- Require the WIPO Internal Audit and Oversight Division to conduct a monthly review of projects or other assistance intended for States subject to Security Council sanctions, and the External Auditors Office follow up with a quarterly review and an annual report to all Member States at the WIPO Assembly.
- Follow through with the commitment to verify the end-use of the equipment already shipped to certain countries subject to U.N. Security Council resolutions.
This issue has also made apparent the importance of sound whistleblower protection policies. The U.S. position has been very clear across all UN organizations. Whistleblowers should be able to report in good faith concerning suspected fraud and/or corruption without fear of reprisal. When reprisals are taken or threatened, whistleblowers should have an effective recourse mechanism. The United States would like to commend the Secretariat on the work done so far on the new Whistleblower Protection Policy, and we look forward to its approval and implementation at the October meeting of the Coordination Committee. However, in the meantime, it is vitally important for the Director General to provide assurances, in writing, to all WIPO employees that they may discuss these transfers now being reviewed without fear of reprisal of any kind.
The U.S. is committed to working directly with the Director General and Secretariat to ensure that the Organization is transparent and accountable, responsive to Member States, and abides by established international rules and regulations, particularly when there are questionable transactions involving countries subject to UN Security Council sanctions.