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UN Defends WIPO N. Korea & Iran Aid, Tells ICP Will Check Sanctions Committee

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 -- After the US House Foreign Affairs Committee announced Monday it will investigate the UN World Intellectual Property Organization for, among other things, supplying "Iran and North Korea with computers and other sensitive technology in violation of manufacturers' restrictions and in possible violation of UN sanctions," Inner City Press asked the UN two questions at the day's noon briefing.

   First, Inner City Press asked for the UN system's response to the just-announced investigation.  Video here.

  Second, following Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement over the weekend that he had spoken with the North Korea (formally, Democratic People's Republic of Korea) sanctions committee, Inner City Press asked for a read out of that meeting, and if Ban meets with other sanctions panels, for example that on Somalia and Eritrea.

  While four hours later the UN has declined to say more about these meetings other than refer to a "read out" that was never given, Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey answered Inner City Press, as summarized by the UN itself:

"Asked about the activities of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Spokesperson said that WIPO carries out a wide range of capacity-building programs, approved by its 185 member states, which aim to assist developing countries to use intellectual property for development, and to participate in the global intellectual property system.

"These include programs to assist IP offices in modernizing/automating their information technology systems, so they can process national and international patent and trademark applications more efficiently.

"Standard technical assistance under this program may include needs-assessment, assistance in planning of the modernization of technical infrastructure in IP offices, training for officials, the provision of WIPO's software for IP office automation, the provision of standard office equipment and other equipment to manage the electronic procedures of IP office functions and services, and follow-up validation.

"As a matter of caution, however, and in light of concerns expressed recently, WIPO will in the future systematically refer relevant cases of technical assistance to countries under a UN sanctions regime to the UN Sanctions Committee."

  It seems that would have been obvious from the beginning. But the House Foreign Affairs Committee will find out - and perhaps about Ban Ki-moon's meeting(s) with sanctions committee(s) as well. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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