U.S. Mission to the United Nations
November 5, 2015
The United States is deeply disappointed by the outcome and conduct of the recent preparatory committee of the “Diplomatic Conference for Adoption of a Revised Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origins and Geographical Indications”, held under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The meeting was a missed opportunity to find common ground on how to protect geographical indications (GI) and chart a way forward agreeable to all WIPO members. The United States and many other countries sought an open, cooperative, and inclusive process whereby all WIPO members would have an equal say in a Diplomatic Conference that will affect their export markets and GI stakeholders.
Instead, a small fraction of WIPO’s members worked to exclude the majority from having a voice in the upcoming Diplomatic Conference to revise the Lisbon Agreement. Such a non-democratic move in an international organization sets a deeply troubling precedent whereby countries representing a mere 15 percent of WIPO’s membership have aggressively empowered themselves to decide issues affecting all WIPO member states. In particular, we cannot accept such a result when it is manufactured in disregard of rules of procedures and of WIPO’s longstanding commitment to cooperation and the practice of consensus. Neither at WIPO nor in other international fora does the United States support such an approach. We can only conclude that because there was no consensus, there was therefore no agreement on how to proceed with the Diplomatic Conference to amend the Lisbon Agreement.