Closing Statement by India at the WIPO Diplomatic Conference to adopt a Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities at Marrakesh, delivered by Shri Shri G.R. Raghavender, Registrar of Copyrights and Director, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 17-28 June 2013
Flexibility is the life force in conducting of any work and without it no progress happens in any work. It is the presence of this flexibility which gave required life to the negotiating work undertaken by the member states during this Diplomatic Conference. We salute to this flexibility which brought smiles on the faces of millions of blind and visually impaired persons.
Today the member states attending the WIPO Diplomatic Conference have created a history by adopting the Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for blind, Visually Impaired and otherwise Print Disabilities. This treaty will certainly promotes access and sharing the books in any format for the blind or visually impaired, which is expected to alleviate the “book famine” experienced by many of the WHO-estimated 300 million people suffering from such disability in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India has more than 63 million visually impaired people, of whom about 8 million are blind.
Considering the importance of access to knowledge especially to blind persons, Indian Parliament last year approved amendments to India’s copyright law which includes very robust exceptions for the physically disabled persons which are disability neutral and works neutral. We are happy to note that the member states have the flexibility to continue with their national laws after joining this treaty. This treaty removes barriers to access, recognises right to read, establishes equal opportunities and rights to blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled persons who are marginalised due to lack of access to published works. We are also happy to note that this treaty strikes an appropriate balace between copyrights and exceptions and limitations.
Indian delegation would like to thank you for your able leadership and guidance in directing all the member states to achieve the objectives of this Diplomatic Conference. We would like to congratulate and appreciate Mr Fracis Gury, DG, WIPO on his able leadership and initiatives taken by him on successful completion of this Diplomatic Conference. We also congratulate Mr Trevor Clarke, ADG, Chairman’s of Main Committees, Drafting Committee, Credential Committee and the Chairman of informal group including the WIPO secretariat on their significant contribution. We would like to congratulate all the member states, WBU members and millions of visually impaired persons all over the world in this regard. We would like to remember the significant and valuable contribution of Late Mr. Rahul Cherian, of Inclusive Planet, an accredited NGO of WIPO, who passed away recently.
Indian delegation believes that member states will take special interest in ratifying this treaty which is the first step towards implementation of this treaty. Further, we believe that contracts will not create any problems in cross border exchange of accessible format copies and the member states will take appropriate and effectIve measures in implementing the objectives of this treaty. We also understand that the provisions of this treaty will facilitate translation of content in the accessible format copies in the language beneficiary persons speak and read. We also believe that this treaty will strengthen the international copyright system.
Marrakech which has given WTO/TRIPS agreement in1994 it has indeed proved lucky again for us by giving an important multi-lateral treaty for blind people. The Marrakech spirit has set an unprecedented example in solving the problems in the international norm setting and it reinforces our confidence in the WIPO’s significant role in managing and implementing international copyright system. We would like to thanks all individuals who have contributed to this treaty to happen by showing flexibity in negotiation and for WIPO secretariat for their secretarial work. Indian delegation would like to thank the government of Kingdom of Morocco for excellent arrangements made for organising this conference and hospitality shown to us.
We are happy to celebrate and see that the treaty has finally taken the form of a beautiful butterfly which is liked by one and all.