University of Oxford, Global Economic Governance Programme (GEG), Oxford
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the multilateral system's key agency charged with intellectual property (IP). This working paper is the first of two documents prepared as background for a political analysis of WIPO's governance and reform debates. This first paper presents an overview of the core components of WIPO's governance system, described in practical, readily-accessible terms for policymakers and stakeholders in the form of a factual reference guide. The second paper provides a chronological review of governance discussions at WIPO since 1967, as well as actions taken by Member States and the Secretariat to date. The third paper offers a political assessment of WIPO's governance and reform efforts, critically reviewing the power politics and dynamics of governance. After presenting a framework for analysing WIPO's governance system, this paper reviews the origins of WIPO and sets out its current functions and activities, as well as the leadership, size and structure of the Secretariat. The core of the paper identifies and examines the core components of WIPO's current governance system in five thematic areas: mandate and legal foundations; decision-making structures, processes and practices for Member State representation; financial arrangements (e.g., income sources and budget process); accountability mechanisms (i.e., for oversight, audit and evaluation); and transparency and external relations. The paper highlights that WIPO's financial model is unique among UN organisations: the organization relies almost entirely on self-financing, raising revenue from private sector fees in exchange for treaty-related services rather than from Member State contributions. The paper also shows that while the WIPO Secretariat is a core subject of WIPO's formal governance structure, it is also an actor in the wider governance system that impact what the organisation does and how.