from the hypocrites dept
We’ve discussed many, many times how the US and other developed nations have been relying on extreme secrecy in crafting new intellectual property agreements, such as ACTA and TPP. They continue to insist that no one else should be in the room when they discuss these important laws. So, what happens when some poorer developing nations want to get together to discuss how developing nations might create better intellectual property laws that match their own specific needs? You guessed it. The big developing nations freak out and demand to be in the room. Apparently, the developed nations only think things should be secret for their own intellectual property discussions.
This all happened recently at WIPO, concerning the Development Agenda. As a bit of background, over the past few years, WIPO has finally come around to realizing that a single strict intellectual property regime around the world doesn’t make much sense. Over the last decade, the amount of evidence showing how developing nations are seriously harmed by strict intellectual property laws is overwhelming and, at this point, incontrovertible. With that in mind, the Development Agenda within WIPO has grown, allowing various developing nations to really seek out alternative views on intellectual property. In fact, this is why ACTA and TPP are being done outside of WIPO, despite it being the natural place for such agreements: because the US (mainly), and some others like Japan, didn’t want to let the developing nations into the conversation.
And yet, when the Development Agenda tried to have some private discussions on “enhancing cooperation” on intellectual property issues among developing nations… the developed nations threw something of a hissy fit, and effectively derailed the meetings by demanding to be there. The end result was that the meetings were suspended:
In the project, two inter-regional meetings were planned among developing countries and LDCs, and two annual conferences with the full WIPO membership. According to sources, the two inter-regional meetings would have been closed meetings only allowing members from developing countries and LDCs and that was challenged, in particular by developed countries.
Some concessions were made so that only the first inter-regional meeting would have been closed and the second one would be open to developed countries but only with an observer status, with one conference open to the whole WIPO membership, according to sources. Some developed countries argued that no meeting should be restricted to only some members as some developing countries purported the opposite opinion, saying that a closed meeting would constitute the first step of South-South collaboration, sources said.
No consensus seemed reachable and Egypt asked for a vote to adopt the project, backed up by India and South Africa. Matters got only worse when a developed country member asked for a secret ballot vote, which gave way to a discussion on the WIPO rules of procedures and the difficulty to organise a secret ballot vote this late into the evening and the meeting, sources said.
Egypt finally asked for a suspension of the meeting, backed up by India, according to a source. The vice-chair of the meeting, Garikai Kashitiku, first secretary of the permanent mission of Zimbabwe, suspended the meeting.
While I tend to think that all such discussions should be open, I find it astoundingly hypocritical of the “developed nations” to insist on keeping their own discussions entirely secret (and even taking them out of WIPO to keep them secret), and then to claim that these discussions need to involve them.