Minutes - TRIPS Council Special Session - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Manzoor Ahmad (Pakistan)
World Trade Organization
B.ii.a Presentation on the CRN
117. The representative of the WTO Secretariat said that the aim of his presentation was to provide a brief history of the CRN, describe the life-cycle of a notification within the Secretariat and explain how to access notification documents via the CRN on the Internet. 118. The Central Registry of Notifications, or CRN, was established by Ministerial Decision in 1993, the whole text of which was available as an annex to document TN/IP/4/Add.1/Rev.1. The main role of the CRN was to record and cross-reference notifications submitted to the Secretariat by Members. The CRN database was an internal WTO computer database that recorded all notifications submitted to the Secretariat by Members in fulfilment of their obligations under the WTO Agreements. The CRN was not a notification system per se, but rather a central register of notification documents. Each database record had 17 descriptive data fields and also a number of system fields for application management purposes. The database stored records of all notifications issued by the WTO from 1995 onwards, both regular and ad hoc. For each notification document issued there was a corresponding notification record containing information about the notification, and a link to the respective WORD document. Only selected elements of the database record were posted in the CRN records on the Internet. The key data fields for retrieving notifications were: symbol, issuing date, notification requirement - e.g. TRIPS, TBT, SCM - and notifying Member. 119. He said that currently, under all the WTO Agreements, there were 182 notification obligations or requirements recorded in the database. To date, almost 27,000 individual notifications had been issued by the Secretariat. In 2004, 2,730 notifications were issued. The CRN database was managed by staff of the WTO CRN, which was a section of the Language Services and Documentation Division. The CRN administrator was an information professional and was assisted by one database clerk. All WTO notifications were issued as unrestricted documents which meant that they were immediately available to the public as well as Members. Notifications were posted on the Internet in Documents online, a web application designed by the WTO for disseminating and archiving electronically all official documents. Documents online was available on the Internet in two places: on the WTO website and on the WTO Members' site. 120. With regard to the lifecycle of a notification within the WTO Secretariat, he said that a notification was usually sent by a Member's agency to the WTO, as an attachment to an e-mail. It could also be submitted on paper or by fax. Ideally, notifications should always be sent to the CRN and not to the divisions or to individual members of the administration, but unfortunately this was not always the case in practice. The receipt and storage of original notification documents was centralized in the CRN. The notifications were recorded in the CRN database and then transmitted to the responsible division for further processing. The division would then prepare an official notification document, assign a symbol and transmit the notification to Documents Control for final editing and translation. Four to five working days were required on average to produce a notification document. The notification was then circulated as a paper document to authorized recipients and also posted in Documents online on the Internet. Once the document had been distributed, the CRN Registry Staff would complete the database record with the symbol details. 121. He said that the CRN was a small unit that operated with two staff and basic computing equipment. The bulk of the costs of producing notifications occurred, first, in the divisions, where secretarial and professional intervention was called for in the creation of the document, and second, in Documents Control, which was part of the Language Services and Documentation Division, where multiple editorial and formatting interventions by clerical and professional staff were called for and where the translation of the document was also requested. The paper reproduction and distribution costs would vary according to the size and volume of notifications produced in the three languages. 122. Finally, he explained how to search for notifications on the Internet: first, open Documents online on the WTO website or alternatively on the WTO Members' site; then enter the search criteria in the appropriate fields on the search screen – for example, all intellectual property notifications made by a notifying Member. After clicking on the search button or simply pressing "enter", the results of the search would be sorted automatically by requirement, with an indication of the total number of notifications found, again, by requirement. The documents should appear on screen in a standard display, sorted in reverse chronological order and ordered by symbol. Additionally, it would be possible to view the notifications directly on screen, print the notification documents and download the documents in English, French or Spanish in their original WORD format.
It was so agreed.