COMMUNIQUE OF THE SIXTEENTH SESSION OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF ARIPO HELD IN LILONGWE, REPUBLIC OF MALAWI, ON NOVEMBER 23, 2017
1. The Council of Ministers of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) (hereafter referred to as “the Organization”) held its Sixteenth Session at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), Lilongwe, Malawi on November 23 and 24, 2017.
2. The Honourable Samuel Tembenu, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of Malawi, officially opened the Sixteenth Session of the Council of Ministers. In his speech, Honourable Tembenu indicated that the Session of the Council of Ministers afforded Ministers the opportunity to take stock of the successes and challenges facing ARIPO and its Member States in promoting the use of Intellectual Property (IP) as an engine of growth in the respective countries. He underscored the fact that most economies of the ARIPO Member States are agriculture-based and therefore incumbent on the countries to develop appropriate legal instruments that will create conducive environment for value addition to agricultural commodities.
3. The Honourable Tembenu commended ARIPO for the development of the Arusha Protocol which was adopted on July 6, 2015 in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania. He applauded the Administrative Council for the adoption of the Regulations for the Implementation of the Arusha Protocol at its Forty-First Session. He called on Honourable Ministers to ensure their respective Governments ratify the Arusha Protocol as soon as possible to enable its implementation for the benefit of Member States.
4. The Council of Ministers elected Malawi, Liberia and Sao Tome and Principe to serve as Chairman, First Vice-Chairman and Second Vice-Chairman respectively in the 2018-2019 biennium.
5. The Council of Ministers took note of the report of the Chairman of the Administrative Council regarding the decisions that the Administrative Council took at its Forty-First Session held in Lilongwe from November 20 to 22, 2017. The report highlighted the major achievements made by the Organization during the reporting period including the adoption of the amendments to the Harare Protocol and the Banjul Protocol, adoption of the Regulations for the Implementation of the Arusha Protocol on Plant Variety Protection, the inauguration in December 2016 of the extension of the Building of the Headquarters of ARIPO, among others.
6. The Council of Ministers took note of the report of the Director General which provided a summary of the activities carried out in the 2016-2017 biennium and commended the Organization for its contribution to the development of the national and regional IP systems.
7. The Council of Ministers considered developments of Intellectual Property in Africa related to the creation of the Pan-African Intellectual Property (PAIPO) by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The Council of Ministers underscored the important roles that ARIPO and OAPI have played and continue to play in building the national and regional Intellectual Property systems in Africa and affirmed their support to the two Organisations
8. The Council of Ministers reiterated its position that PAIPO should focus on policy coordination and strategic direction for the development of the Intellectual Property system in Africa.
9. The Council of Ministers resolved that the Secretariat of ARIPO should facilitate high level missions to the Member States, in particular to those that signed the PAIPO Statute to sensitize and engage their Governments on the need to fully support and safeguard ARIPO and OAPI.
10. The Council of Ministers considered the outcome document of the High-Level Meeting on Promoting Policy Coherence on Health Technology Innovation and Access in the ARIPO Region that was organized by Government of Malawi, with the support of the UNDP in Lilongwe from November 1 to 3, 2017. The Council of Ministers mandated the Secretariat to explore and formulate concrete proposals aimed at addressing policy and legal incoherencies that impact access to health technologies and in the Member States of ARIPO, take actions accordingly and report to the Governing Bodies of the Organization.
11. The Council of Ministers noted the low uptake of the Intellectual Property systems and its use to foster creativity and innovation in the ARIPO Member States in particular, and Africa as a whole, and mandated the ARIPO Secretariat to undertake studies to identify the causes and make appropriate recommendations on the remedial actions.
12. The Council of Ministers expressed its gratitude to the Government of Republic of Malawi for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the Sixteenth Session of the Council of Ministers.
13. The Council of Ministers further expressed its appreciation and gratitude to the cooperating partners of the Organization for their continued support and participation in the Sixteenth Session of the Council of Ministers of ARIPO.
14. Eleven (11) Ministers and Five (5) Accredited Officials participated in the Session of the Council of Ministers. Also present were Observer Member States, Inter-governmental Organization, other Cooperating Partners and IP Practitioners.