Yesterday, China blocked the ad-hoc accreditation of Wikimedia chapters of France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, and Switzerland as official observers to the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Previously, China had rejected the Wikimedia’s Foundation application to observer status to this UN agency.
WIPO SCCR discussions where norm setting in copyright is concerned are of utmost importance to access to knowledge organizations, and observer status is a necessary condition for the six Wikimedia chapters to participate in such discussions. Not admitting the chapters as observers is unacceptable and runs counter to established practice and criteria for admission of observers at WIPO.
China opposed the applications, suggesting that they are subsidiaries of Wikimedia Foundation, whose projects violate the ‘One China’ Policy. China’s position was implicitly supported by Bolivia, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Venezuela, which stressed the need for consensus to approve the chapters’ applications.
Group B, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States urged the Committee to abide by the principles of transparency and inclusiveness and grant observer status to the chapters, as they fulfilled all the relevant criteria. They further stressed that these civil society organisations would enrich the debate at the Committee, as they have done on national legislative procedures.
The six Wikimedia chapters are legitimate civil society stakeholders in the area of access to knowledge and COMMUNIA strongly condemns the decision to not admit their applications to the status of observer of a Committee that shapes the legal framework for access to knowledge and information.