Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

WIPO Director General Holds High Level Talks in Bangladesh, Addresses LDCs Forum

Geneva, July 21, 2010

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry wrapped up a three day official visit to Dhaka on July 20, 2010 during which he held a series of high level meetings, including with the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina. Talks focused on ways to enhance cooperation between WIPO and Bangladesh as well as a range of issues of interest to least developed countries as a whole. Mr. Gurry also presented to the Prime Minister the results of a WIPO-commissioned study on traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) of Bangladesh. 

The Prime Minister and Mr. Gurry opened the High-level Forum on Intellectual Property for the Policy Makers of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of Asia and the Pacific Region, which brought together participants from twelve  LDCs from the region - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Nepal, Maldives, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Yemen. 

“At the outset I should like to reiterate my personal commitment, and the commitment of the entire World Intellectual Property Organization, to least developed countries,” said Mr. Gurry. “We believe that the potential of your countries to contribute to, and to benefit from, the intellectual property system is enormous. That is why we are trying to develop tools and provide policy and technical support to help this region reach its capacity.” 

The Forum provided policy makers - ministers, parliamentarians and heads of IP offices – with an opportunity to examine national intellectual property (IP) experiences and to exchange viewpoints. Particular attention was given to the national experiences of Bangladesh, Malaysia, South Africa, and Ethiopia which are using the tools of the IP system to promote national development goals. The Forum also examined issues relating to policy formulation, national innovation strategy, technological capacity building, branding export products, traditional knowledge, and collective management. These are key elements in enabling LDCs to advance their national development goals and promote wealth creation.  

The study on traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) of Bangladesh was also presented at the Forum. It outlines a strategic approach to the protection and promotion of the cultural expressions in Bangladesh and is of significant interest to other LDCs as its comprehensive methodology can be adapted to the specific economic circumstances of a country. The study also examines the types of cultural expressions that are specific to the South Asian region and sets out a model law for the protection and use of cultural expressions for employment creation.

In talks with the Prime Minister, Mr. Gurry pledged WIPO’s support in the formulation of an IP strategy, and in the establishment of an integrated national IP office that would cover both industrial property and copyright.  

In bilateral discussions the Director General highlighted the role of a balanced national intellectual property system in promoting development and growth and in addressing key public policy challenges, such as the environment, public health, and food security. He underlined the role of IP in driving innovation, creativity and transfer of technology, and emphasized the need to ensure that the IP system produces social and economic benefit. 

Talks were held with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Dipu Moni, Minister for Industries, Mr. Dilip Barua, Minister for Information and Cultural Affairs, Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, and Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. A. F. M. Ruhal Haque, as well as a number of senior officials. They focused on joint activities to support Bangladesh in capacity building, including WIPO’s assistance in the establishment of a collective management organization for copyright and related rights. 

Mr. Gurry also participated in a roundtable on “Intellectual Property and Development: Relevance for Bangladesh” organized by Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) on the use of IP for economic growth and development, with special emphasis on least developed countries. He also met with the Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, Prof. Siddique, and took part in an interactive discussion session with teachers and students on IP education. 

The importance of advancing international discussions on the protection of traditional knowledge (TK), genetic resources (GRs) and folklore was a recurring theme. Mr. Gurry observed that a real opportunity to achieve tangible results in this area exists with the renewed mandate of the WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). Officials stressed the importance of this issue for Bangladesh and least developed countries in general.  

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