A controversy rounded up in the wake up of Fox News’ discovery – reports via BoingBoing – that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations organization, has shipped around $50,000 of computer equipments to North Korea, against UN sanctions. The purpose of the computer equipment was to give North Korea access to the WIPO’s extensive patent database as a part of the organization’s “standard technical assistance program for developing countries,” although the method by which the WIPO purchased and imported the computers appears to have been purposefully designed to circumvent UN attention.
In that letter, also obtained by Fox News, Kateb declared that so far as WIPO staffers could tell, WIPO’s member states “had not been consulted and have no knowledge of this project. Thus, they were not given an opportunity to review or object to it.” The project, Kateb said, “was allegedly approved directly by the director general.”
Gurry denied at the meeting with diplomats that WIPO’s technology transfer violated any international sanctions efforts. He subsequently circulated to the attending ambassadors a WIPO legal memorandum — written by the office of WIPO legal counsel Edward Kwakwa — which claimed that the computer exports were “part of WIPO’s technical assistance program,” which “does not violate any U.N. Security Council sanctions.”
The memo acknowledged that payment for the computers had been blocked by U.S. sanctions laws “enacted in part to implement” the binding U.N. sanctions. But it also declared that “WIPO, as an international organization, is not bound by the U.S. national law in this matter” and was still looking for ways to pay for the shipment.
(Image Source: BoingBoing)