WIPO Director General Addresses Graduates at Franklin Pierce Law Center

Geneva, May 20, 1999
Press Updates UPD/1999/60

The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Kamil Idris, told graduates at the Franklin Pierce Law Center in the United States of America that intellectual property is a human right laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Franklin Pierce Law Center has been rated the top law school for the past three years in the teaching of intellectual property in the United States. It is very well known also outside the country, particularly as it receives many students from different parts of the world. WIPO has been cooperating with the FPLC for some years now, sponsoring every year a number of students from developing countries for its post-graduate program.

At the May graduation ceremony, the university conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree on the Director General. In a citation, the President of the New-Hampshire-based university, Dr. Robert M. Viles, said that Dr. Idris had served the international community "with extraordinary insight, understanding, compassion and skill." Dr. Viles said Dr. Idris had "encouraged, enlightened, and touched the lives of many, shedding light on the often obscure and arcane worlds of international affairs and intellectual property."

The President of the FPLC also paid tribute to Dr. Idris’ foresight and leadership abilities. "You have demonstrated a remarkable ability to see issues from all sides and chart a course forward," he said. Dr. Viles added that Dr. Idris had applied "considerable intellect and compassion to provide leadership and vision in a world of fast-changing economic, technological, social and political circumstances."

In his keynote address, Dr. Idris spoke on the theme of intellectual property and human rights. The Director General noted that during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Rights that took place in December 1998 in Geneva, there had been a general reaffirmation of the provisions of Article 27 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This provides for everyone to have the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he or she is the author. Dr. Idris noted that the right to intellectual property was inherent and could not arbitrarily be taken away. He observed that the intellectual property rights must be balanced with others such as the right to freely participate in the cultural life of a given society.

At the event, attended by some 1,000 participants, the Director General also pointed out that intellectual property has become increasingly relevant in trade, health, culture, food security and in scientific, industrial and information technologies. He underlined that intellectual property was a critical tool for the economic, social and cultural development of countries.

During his visit, senior university officials thanked the Director General for the donation of WIPO publications to the law school’s library. In response, Dr. Idris explained that the WIPO library had been integrated with the WIPO Worldwide Academy with a view to better serving the research needs of academics visiting WIPO’s Geneva headquarters. Talks also focused on possible areas of cooperation between WIPO and the FPLC, particularly in relation to the training activities of the Academy.

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