Committee: Intransparency of negotiations on ACTA confirms need of global parliamentary body
The Committee for a Democratic United Nations (KDUN), a non-governmental think tank based in Berlin, Germany, has criticised the "worrying intransparency" of the intergovernmental negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) whose sixth round was held in Seoul from 4th to 6th November. According to the Committee, negotiating texts and drafts of the agreement, which deals with the establishment of "effective international standards for enforcing intellectual property rights", have not yet been disclosed.
"The negotiations on this agreement have started in June 2008. Negotiating texts and drafts are still not publicly available although the process is supposed to be concluded within the next year. We believe that the subjects under discussion have to be put under global public scrutiny. For this purpose, it is necessary that negotiating texts are disclosed to the best possible extent. The rigid information policy pursued by the negotiating parties causes increasing distrust in the process. This is not adequate, as the provisions might have a huge impact on millions of citizens around the world", said Andreas Bummel, the Committee's Chair.
The Committee stressed that the European Parliament has repeatedly called on the European Union's Commission, which takes part in the negotiations, to "immediately make all documents related to the ongoing international negotiations on the ACTA publicly available."
According to KDUN, "public dialogue and discussion has to take place before the negotiating parties agree on a final draft. Experience shows that once they have done so, they will be reluctant to consider any serious changes. From our point of view, it is vital that the parliaments of the negotiating parties are involved. In practice, these parliaments otherwise can only give their blessing, without much opportunity to influence the content of the agreement."
"The creation of global regulation needs to be transparent and democratic. Until now the negotiations on ACTA demonstrate the opposite. This confirms the need of a global parliamentary body which is able to interfere publicly on behalf of the world's citizens", Mr. Bummel stressed. The Committee for a Democratic U.N. promotes the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly which shall have the right, among other things, "to be integrated into multilateral treaty negotiations at the international level".
According to the Swedish Presidency of the European Union, participants in the negotiations on ACTA include Australia, Canada, the European Union, represented by the European Commission, the EU Presidency (Sweden), and EU Member States, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States of America. "It is remarkable that the negotiations take place outside of existing multilateral frameworks such as the United Nations, the World Intellectual Property Organization or the World Trade Organization," KDUN's Vice-Chair, Dr. Claudia Kissling, commented.