The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was forced to suspend a meeting on its development agenda last week (6 May) following "strong disagreement" among delegates.
The pro-poor agenda was first approved in 2007 and included 45 proposals designed to harness intellectual property arrangements for development. WIPO, a UN organisation, set up a committee dedicated to implementing the proposals and it was agreed they would meet twice a year.
But at last week's meeting delegates from developed countries challenged proposals that would lead to developing countries meeting in closed, South-only meetings, as part of a project called 'Enhancing South/South cooperation on intellectual property and development among developing countries and least developed countries'.
They argued that no meeting should be restricted only to certain committee members. But delegates from developing countries argued that South-only meetings would be the first step towards South–South collaboration.
No agreement was reached, according to Intellectual Property Watch, and the meeting was suspended amidst arguments about the protocols of voting on the project. The suspension might have saved the project, as some sources said a vote could have ruled it out.
But the suspension of the session also means that several other projects have not been approved as planned.
The idea for a development agenda was first introduced by Argentina and Brazil at the 2004 WIPO general assembly where it was backed mainly by developing countries and resisted by some developed countries.
Last year, Egypt formed a Development Agenda Group to promote developing country interests at WIPO and Hisham Badr, permanent representative of Egypt to the UN, said it had so far been difficult to implement the agenda.