WIPO Extraordinary General Assembly: Morocco announces its candidacy to host a Diplomatic Conference on the Treaty for the Blind

Morocco delivered this statement today (17 December 2012) announcing its formal candidacy to host a Diplomatic Conference in June 2013.

MOROCCO: Thank you, Chairman. Chairman, I would like to begin by saying how happy I am to see you in the Chair for this extraordinary session of our General Assembly. I would also like to say that we have every confidence in you. We know your skill and we are sure that you will do your utmost to ensure that this extraordinary session does achieve the excellent and positive results that we are all hoping for in this area of access to published works for VIPs and person with print disabilities.

And we hope that under your Chairmanship a positive decision will be adopted with reference to a Diplomatic Conference next June.

Chairman, my delegation is very happy to note that there is a positive and constructive spirit that has prevailed throughout the fruitful negotiations that have taken place within the context of the SCCR. These have been the negotiations on drafting a text on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons and person with print disabilities. Morocco also welcomes the fact that progress has been made, and we believe that the conclusion of such an International instrument would, indeed, be have very positive outcome and we feel our colleague Mwapi has been achieved a great deal. The spirit and also the political will that has been shown on all sides. I want to take my opportunity to express my hope that this open mindedness and this political will will continue to guide us in our work within the SCCR and also within this extraordinary session of our General Assembly being held today and tomorrow has to grasp this opportunity. We have to send out a strong signal to the millions of visually impaired people and blind people throughout the world who are listening for what we have to say. And we heard the figures. We know that there are almost 300 million visually impaired people, around 100 million blind people. And WHO statistics indicate that the number of visually impaired people will double, it is believed, by 2020. That would certainly be the number of blind people that would double by that time.

So this is a very important opportunity for us. And it's one that we have to grasp. We have to reaffirm the political will shared here by all Member States to respond to the legitimate basic needs of this sentiment of the international community. But, looking beyond that, we have to work towards achieving a legal instrument that will allow them to ensure full enjoyment of their basic human rights, the right to knowledge, the right to reading, the right to information. We, therefore, urge all Member States and all other stakeholders to redouble their efforts, to step up cooperation, so that we can conclude negotiations on such an international instrument in the next six months.

The six months that lie between our meeting now and next June.

My delegation, Chairman, is particularly happy this morning to submit the candidacy of Morocco as a host for that Diplomatic Conference next June. The fact that we are submitting this candidacy reflects our commitment to people with disabilities. Our commitment to allowing them to enjoy their legitimate rights and it also reflects our wish to intensify cooperation and partnership with WIPO as well as that it reflects our wish to be a more active part of the International community working on behalf of visually impaired persons and person with print disabilities.

We submitted our candidacy officially this morning to the Director General. That being so, I would now like to appeal to all delegations. I appeal to all of you: Let us take this opportunity, the opportunity that we now have, let us take a clear, strong, and firm decision and that will be a strong message going out to the global community. Let us decide to convene this Diplomatic Conference next June and send out that signal.

We are very happy to note the support expressed here this morning by the various regional groups that have spoken. In fact, what we have heard confirms the fact that we are all committed to the cause of assisting visually impaired persons and person with print disabilities. I believe that is a noble objective. It is a noble vocation that we all share and it is that that brings us together here today as we seek to work in order to develop an International instrument or Treaty that can, and we say this once again, that can enhance the rights of the people concerned but at the same time can also take due consideration of the need to protect copyright; an instrument that can strike the right balance.

And in thinking about this balance we have to bear in mind that we are trying to support those who are suffering. And I was very struck by what was said by the delegate of Benin, he said the fact that we can read text, that we can look at each other, that we can talk to each other is a great blessing that we can enjoy and own people cannot enjoy that and we have to think about them. We know that there are some difficulties to overcome. The Chairman of the SCCR has reminded us of some of the challenges that we face. We know that there are paragraphs in square brackets, there are alternative, but there is also political will to move forward and we hope that that political will can prevail over any other consideration.

The work we are doing now, the instrument we are developing now is something that has been waited for, for too long. The community of blind people, visually impaired persons, have been waiting for this for too long. They are a forgotten community, a marginalized community. And as our colleagues here have said, 90 percent of that community lives in the southern hemisphere, in developing countries. And in LDC, in least developed countries. And this is an appeal from the south to the north that an impetus be created, a humanitarian impetus, because we need to reach out to that community, to give them access to general knowledge, to culture, to books. The right that all of us enjoy and that's really a sacred right that they should enjoy. A legitimate right that they should enjoy. And we, therefore, hope and believe that the obstacles that remain in our path are not insurmountable. And if you look at what we have achieved thus far it's very significant. What we still have to do is really much less. We are really in the home straight. We are in the last ten minutes of a marathon here. The last ten meters are all that lie ahead of us and I hope that together we can work in that spirit, bearing that in mind, and with the constructive and positive spirit that has always prevailed we can move forward. We can redouble our efforts. We can show that we can be flexible and that we're not going to tie the convening of this conference to conditionality teas. Deciding upon the conference in itself is a strong signal being sent out but it's also pressure on the negotiators. It's the best way of putting pressure on our negotiator, on the penal from our different countries telling them there is a deadline and they have to get there showing appropriate flexibility on the way. That's the way forward. Anything else would actually just give people a let out. And we don't need that. That's not what we need now. That's what not what we need given where we are. We need to be resolved, we need to be determined as we move forward. And set agriculture date for the conference, taking a clear decision about that, would indeed help future negotiations. It would enlighten our negotiators and it would put pressure to them, allowing them to shoulder their responsibilities. Our capital, our country, have to do that today and have to reach out, showing the flexibility that is needed * in order to bring us to our conclusion. And that brings me to my conclusion. I do apologize Chairman if I've been a little long in my comments. But I'm saying we are now talking about almost 300 people who have indicated too long to enjoy access to their legitimate rights; a right that is fundamental, that is enshrined in all human rights treaties, the right to culture, the right to knowledge. Let us meet the expectations that they have. Let us reach out to them and let us reach agreement on a text and work to finalize it as quickly as possible, if possible, at the special session to be held in February.

And Morocco would certainly like to assure everyone here that Morocco will spare no effort in ensuring that the Marrakech conference will be a great event in the history of WIPO. It will be a cornerstone in WIPO's history of working on behalf of human rights. WIPO is not there just for patent holder, copyright holders. WIPO it will be seen will be doing something for human rights. And that will be a historic milestone in the history of WIPO.

Because an injustice will be remedied, an injustice and unfairness that we did not create, that's true, it's there. But it's something that we can now do something about. We can remedy this injustice. And Marrakech has always been a very important venue for different conferences, WTO, for instance, had a conference there. And it's always been a conference that has brought great good luck as a conference centre to those who attended conferences there.

But before we get to Marrakech, we have to do something here. Here and now. We need your flexibility and we need your commitment. It's work for human rights, humanitarian work and it's work that will be a milestone in the history of WIPO and in all that it does.

Thank you.