WIPO Assemblies Open

Geneva, September 24, 2007

The meetings of the Assemblies of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which bring together WIPO’s 184 member states, opened on September 24, 2007 with the election of Ambassador Martin I. Uhomoibhi, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations in Geneva as Chairman of the WIPO General Assembly. The meeting of WIPO Assemblies, which run from September 24 to October 3, 2007, will take stock of progress in the Organization’s work and discuss future policy directions. 
Ambassador Uhomoibhi thanked member states for their “confidence and trust” in electing him as Chair of the WIPO General Assembly and called on their continuing cooperation and support in “our common quest to ensure the progress of WIPO and the achievement of its programmes to our collective good.” He said the WIPO General Assembly traditionally “provide[d] us the opportunity to assess challenges encountered and progress made in achieving our stated goals and objectives. These Assemblies are at the heart of WIPO’s implementation strategy for the sustenance and actualization of its programmes and activities.”
The Ambassador paid tribute to the outgoing Chairman of the WIPO General Assembly, Ambassador  Enrique Manalo, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, and his vice-chairs, for “their tireless efforts in promoting dialogue and consensus on several processes”. He expressed his appreciation of the “skilled leadership” of WIPO Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, and his “expert management of the human and material resources of the Organization.” He thanked the Director General and WIPO staff for their dedication and “their contributions in support of Member States efforts towards the development of a balanced and accessible intellectual property system which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to the economic development of all countries.” 
Ambassador Uhomoibhi said “in our globalizing world, new elements and new dynamics are at play. As always, the human spirit is at the epicenter of this challenge…..WIPO has a role to play in meeting today’s challenges, supreme among which is the challenge of development.” The Ambassador spoke of the role of intellectual property in promoting human progress and said “it is incumbent on us to sustain, expand and deepen the role of our organization to improve the quality and enjoyment of life for all peoples, including through the creation of real and sustainable wealth for all nations.” He called on member states to always be “guided by our common interest and to adopt the attitude of flexibility and open mindedness in our dealings.”
At the opening session of the meeting, the outgoing Chairman of the WIPO General Assembly, Ambassador Enrique Manalo, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, thanked member states for their cooperation in finding solutions to on-going international intellectual property debates under his chairmanship.  Ambassador Manalo expressed his appreciation for “the support and advice of the Director General” and his senior management team. He said “I am heartened to know that I am ending my duties at a time when the Organization is enjoying unprecedented growth … a combination of strict fiscal discipline within the International Bureau combined with a high demand for WIPO’s services have led to an increase in WIPO’s reserve funds.” He said, “This is indeed a welcome development and augurs well for the future of the Organization.”
The Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, applauded Ambassador Manalo’s “dedication and commitment” in undertaking his role as Chairman of the WIPO Assembly since 2005. 
Dr. Idris also drew the attention of delegations to a paper entitled “WIPO – The Past Decade and Beyond” which outlines the initiatives spearheaded by the Organization since 1997 and future goals.  The paper refers to a number of measures undertaken by WIPO and its leadership to ensure that the Organization remains a vehicle for positive change and renewal in the emerging knowledge-based global economy. The measures taken have strengthened WIPO’s effectiveness in developing solutions that address the needs and ambitions of member states in a quickly changing IP environment. Every effort has been made to build international consensus among an increasingly diverse community of IP stakeholders whose priorities and aspirations are sometimes disparate and not always aligned. Future directions will involve a process of consolidating progress made to date and to extend and strengthen the Organization’s position as the pivot of the international IP system.
Measures designed to equip the Organization for the IP challenges of the 21st Century include: greater accountability and transparency enabling member states to actively participate in the planning and implementation of policies and activities; greater interaction and dialogue with the full constituency of WIPO stakeholders on core issues; a more structured and focused approach to developing national IP infrastructure tailoring the Organization’s response to specific national needs; intensified and determined action to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries ensuring that all countries are equipped to draw benefit from the IP system; enhanced efforts to protect IP assets by strengthening the push to address counterfeiting and piracy that threaten the economic well-being of nations; greater synergy with partners outside the Organization, including international governmental and non-governmental organizations and civil society; and a more representative and better trained staff body.
Documents relating to the Assemblies are available at https://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=12803
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