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U.S. Joins Request for an Open Diplomatic Conference – WIPO / Lisbon Union Meeting
May 11, 2015

The United States joined the following Joint Statement delivered by Ambassador D’Alotto of Argentina

A Request for an Open Diplomatic Conference
Agenda Item 2

(Consideration and Adoption of the Draft Rules of Procedure)

Mr. Chair,

On behalf of a group of WIPO member states who are observers to the meetings of the Lisbon Union – namely Argentina, Australia, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the United States, and Uruguay – we would like to state for the record that we object to the closed, non-inclusive method of work being advocated by most of the Lisbon Members for this diplomatic conference.

We are dismayed and concerned that a very small number of WIPO Members – less than 15% of the WIPO membership – would deviate from WIPO´s established practice of consensus, and inclusive and member-driven norm-setting, by adopting a method of work that closes off equal participation by 160 of their multilateral partners.

Furthermore, this method of work would also contradict the spirit of Recommendation 15 of the Development Agenda that indicates that norm-setting activities shall be “inclusive and member-driven and take into account different levels of development,” as well as “a participatory process, which takes into consideration the interests and priorities of all WIPO Member States…”.  We understand this principle to mean substantive participation, not participation only as mere observers.

Many of our countries have sent delegations of experts to Geneva this week knowing that there is one final chance for the Lisbon Members to make the choice to advance an inclusive and consensus-based approach for this diplomatic conference that would respect the interests and perspectives of all WIPO Members in the development of the new international norms that Lisbon Members are striving to create during the next two weeks.

The broader WIPO membership has worked constructively with the Lisbon Union to date, and we genuinely wish to make a good faith contribution to this negotiation.  This is not only because certain subject matter for discussion during this diplomatic conference – the protection of geographical indications – is of interest to all WIPO Members.  It is also because it has been a consistent and well-established practice for the past 25 years at WIPO, a multilateral (not plurilateral) institution, for all WIPO Member States to enjoy equal status in WIPO diplomatic conferences. Multilateral participation is an essential ingredient in the negotiation of WIPO treaties.

Many of our countries had viewed this process as an opportunity to take into consideration the interests and priorities of all WIPO member states and as a result, to promote the interests of and improve the services for all of our stakeholders, which include intellectual property rights holders, agricultural producers, and industrial producers who are all extremely significant contributors to our respective economies.  This has been a core objective behind most WIPO treaties.  During the Preparatory Committee in October, it was quite clear there was a globally representative interest in taking advantage of this opportunity, as demonstrated by the presence and voices of colleagues from all over the world and from all levels of development who agree with the importance of inclusiveness and equality in norm-setting.

If the Members of the New Act of the Lisbon Agreement expect that WIPO – as an institution and organization of 188 member states – will embrace this new agreement, the broader WIPO membership must be genuinely and meaningfully – in other words, equally – involved in the negotiation of the agreement, and establishment of this new instrument.

We now find that the openness we all worked hard to share during the Working Groups will not be provided at the diplomatic conference, and will proceed in a direction that will not endeavor to find common ground and that will not attempt to bridge differences. At the diplomatic conference, according to the Draft Rules of Procedure, we will have even lower status than we had as observers at the Working Groups, and even less than non-WIPO Members called “Special Delegations” because we will not be able to make proposals to amend the Basic Proposal, or participate in informal working groups during the diplomatic conference.

It does not have to be that way, however, and we strongly encourage that the Conference consider positively the choice before us to hold a diplomatic conference equally inclusive of all WIPO Members.

We believe that international law allows for this choice to be made.  To confirm our understanding, we would like to ask the Legal Advisor for a legal opinion as to whether the Lisbon Union is required by either the Lisbon Agreement or the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties to hold a closed diplomatic conference, or whether they could choose a path of equal participation by all WIPO Members. We thank the Legal Advisor in advance.

Thank you Mr. Chair.