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U.N. Review of Tech Transfers to Iran, North Korea Underscores Need for U.S. Action
Posted By Brett Schaefer On September 13, 2012 @ 3:39 pm In International | Comments Disabled
As reported by Fox News  earlier this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) approved the transfer of computers and other equipment to Iran and North Korea—both of which are under sanction by the U.S. and the United Nations—without notifying WIPO member states or the U.N. sanctions committees.
In response, WIPO director general Francis Gurry announced that the organization would establish an “Independent External Review” to investigate and submit its report to WIPO. While director general Gurry clearly sought to minimize the potential for embarrassment by circumscribing the review through its “terms of reference,” the two individuals conducting the review (Stig Edqvist and John P. Barker) went well beyond this guidance. Their findings, published in a report  this week, are damning:
The experts were clearly astounded by WIPO’s actions:
[W]e simply cannot fathom how WIPO could have convinced itself that most Member States would support the delivery of equipment to countries whose behavior was so egregious it forces the international community to impose embargoes and where the deliveries, if initiated by the recipient countries, would violate a Member State’s laws.… The UN itself declared that Iran and [North Korea] should fall into a heightened category of diligence and review because of their threats to world peace and stability. WIPO, as a UN agency, shares the obligation to support the work of other UN bodies, including the Sanctions Committees.
Based on the review, WIPO’s actions are indefensible, and WIPO should be held accountable . To do this, the U.S. needs to make its own assessment of how these transfers were approved and who is responsible. According to House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R–FL) and ranking member Howard Berman (D–CA), director general Gurry and WIPO legal counsel Edward Kwakwa have impeded  congressional testimony by WIPO witnesses. The U.S. should insist that the witnesses requested by Congress be allowed to testify without restriction.
Moreover, the U.S. should not let stand WIPO’s assertion that U.S. sanctions can be ignored with impunity. The report correctly notes that only the U.S. can “make the determination of whether the UN privileges and immunities ultimately would exempt WIPO from enforcement of U.S. export control laws” and whether those immunities extend to third-party contractors.
A failure by the U.S. to vigorously insist that its export control laws apply to the U.N. and its contractors would, in effect, render them meaningless.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/09/13/u-n-review-of-tech-transfers-to-iran-north-korea-underscores-need-for-u-s-action/
URLs in this post:
 Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/07/05/state-department-investigating-un-agency-for-computer-shipments-to-iran-and
 report: http://www.wipo.int/about-wipo/en/oversight/pdf/wipo_external_review_2012.pdf
 WIPO should be held accountable: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/07/wipo-and-un-sanctions-violations-us-should-hold-wipo-accountable
 impeded: http://www.foxnews.com/world/interactive/2012/08/03/berman-letter-to-gurry-on-hearing
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