United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Directors-General of UNESCO and WIPO review bilateral cooperation between their Organizations

On Sunday 5 April 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, held bilateral discussions with Mr Francis Gurry, Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The meeting, which took place after the conclusion of the spring 2009 session of the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination – CEB (see Flash Info N°057-2009*) in Paris was the first between the two Directors-General since Mr Gurry’s appointment at the head of WIPO in September 2008.

In a wide ranging review of existing cooperation between the two organizations Mr Matsuura and Mr Gurry noted the complementarity of their respective roles in terms of the protection of intangible expressions and folklore. They discussed the desirability of new instruments against the unfair appropriation of the artefacts of traditional knowledge systems, as well as the role that UNESCO could play in providing technical assistance to developing countries under the mechanisms established by the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Mr Matsuura noted that the past few months had seen a welcome escalation within WIPO of the Development Agenda and in particular the issue of exceptions and limitations to copyright protection in the context of access to knowledge and freedom of expression. This was a welcome evolution and one where the two organizations could usefully strengthen their cooperation.

The two Directors-General also agreed that the digitization of music and book publishing raised a number of difficult issues in terms of intellectual property and that a broad reflection on how to protect creators and simultaneously ensure wide access was urgently needed.

Finally, Mr Matsuura observed that the entry into force of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions had opened a new avenue of collaboration between UNESCO and WIPO which would be the focus of discussions over the coming months.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 059-2009 -  Publication Date: 08-04-2009

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