WIPO tech exports didn’t violate rules finds UN committee

A United Nations committee has concluded the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) technical assistance program didn’t violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.

In question were exports of computer equipment by WIPO intended to help North Korea upgrade its patent office IT system. The exports were first reported by Fox News Channel in April, which published internal WIPO documents that showed reservations over the exports were expressed within WIPO.

In a letter to WIPO, Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, chairman of the UN Security Council Committee, wrote:

Resolution 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009) expressly prohibit the supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK of nuclear, missile and chemical and biological weapons, technology and specified related materiel; arms and related materiell technical training, advice, services or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of such prohibited itemsl and luxury goods. They also impose an asset freeze on certain designated persons and entities, obligating States to ensure that funds or other economic resources are prevented from being made available to or for the benefit of such persons or entities.

I wish to convey the Committee’s understanding that nothing in the Security Council Resolutions 1695 (2006), 1718 (2006), and 1874 (2009) prohibits the technical assistance program that WIPO has carried out in the DPRK, including the transfer of those items cited in your letters or its attachments related to the transfer of equipment and software aimed at assisting the DPRK in developing technical capacity for intellectual property rights protection. Likewise, the Committee does not consider the second phase of technical advice and assistance with the configuration of the equipment and database software that will be provided to the DPRK to be prohibited.

The letter advised WIPO to “carefully review all activities, including this program and future transfers to the DPRK, to ensure that such activities do not involve individuals or entities designated by the United Nations Security Council for targeted sanctions.”

In a brief statement on its web site, WIPO said it has already put in place “measures to ensure that all managers must refer to WIPO’s Office of the Legal Counsel (OLC) for guidance and clearance any activity proposed in a country subject to UN sanctions.


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