November 18, 2008
UN Secretary General and WIPO Director General.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a unique organization with a unique contribution to make in meeting the global challenges faced by the United Nations (UN) family, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon told WIPO staff during his first ever visit to the Organization’s Geneva headquarters on November 18, 2008.
Focusing on the importance of intellectual property in encouraging investment in new technology and in stimulating economic development, the Secretary General commended the work of the Organization and the dedication of its staff. “WIPO can be a champion in helping to meet the Millennium Development Goals; a champion in joining the global efforts to combat climate change; a champion in helping to tackle high food and energy prices,” he said.
In his address to WIPO staff, Mr. Ban Ki Moon shared his thoughts on the mission and mandate of the UN, and on the role of WIPO as a UN specialized agency. The challenges facing the world and the expectations invested in the UN to find solutions were humbling, he said. They included regional conflicts, human rights abuses, abject poverty, countless deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected diseases. The UN had limited resources, and could only succeed in addressing the challenges when all the different organizations within the System worked together. “We have to pool our resources, pool our wisdom, and act as One United Nations,” Mr. Ban told staff. “In this time of economic crisis, this is a practical imperative, as much as a moral one,” he said.
Referring to his discussions that morning with the new WIPO Director General, Mr. Francis Gurry, in which the Chair of the WIPO General Assembly, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, also participated, the Secretary General warmly endorsed the commitment shown by the new WIPO administration to a more intensive engagement in the UN system. He highlighted Mr.Gurry’s determination that WIPO should be actively involved in intellectual property-based initiatives to support the development and diffusion of green technologies. He also underlined the value of the capacity-building assistance provided by WIPO to developing and least developed countries to enable them to benefit from the intellectual property system. Mr. Ban noted that WIPO was unique among UN organizations in generating its own financing for its development activities through the international intellectual property services which it provides to the private sector.
Mr. Gurry, who began a six-year mandate as WIPO Director General on October 1, 2008, has made clear his commitment to closer collaboration with the UN family on global challenges such as reduction of the knowledge gap, sustainable development, climate change, desertification, access to health care, food security and the preservation of biodiversity. The Director General’s proposed Revised Program and Budget, which was published last week for consideration by the Program and Budget Committee in December, places high priority on the effective implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda. The proposed Revised Program and Budget also includes a new strategic-level goal for the Organization on “addressing IP in relation to global policy issues.” WIPO is currently advertising for a new post of Director for Global Challenges, in order to develop policy analysis and practical initiatives in pursuit of this goal.
“Intellectual property policies which are designed to stimulate the development and dissemination of new technologies, have a central role to play in the collective efforts by the international community to find solutions to some of the greatest challenges confronting humanity,” said Mr. Gurry. He added “We need to ensure that WIPO’s voice is heard in all fora where these global public policy issues are discussed, and that we take a leading role in identifying intellectual property-based solutions.”
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