As intellectual properties transcend borders, it is not surprising that a number of countries joined efforts to set up international standards. The late nineteenth century saw the ratification of two major international treaties, Paris (1883) and Berne (1886) that were revised on different occasions afterwards.

The Bureaux Internationaux Réunis de la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle (BIRPI) was the international organisation administering the conventions and changed its name to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) in 1967, becoming a specialised agency of the United Nations established in Geneva, Switzerland.

Although WIPO remained an important multilateral forum, the second half of the twentieth century was characterised by bureaucratic failures at the international treaty-making level and the concomitant rise of the World Trade Organisation as the main negotiating table for international intellectual property that culminated in the TRIPS Agreement (1994).

WIPO reacted by bringing to the fore two treaties (the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty) in 1996 and by attempting to raise awareness of the importance of the need to safeguard intellectual property rights associated with folklore.
World Intellectual Property Organisation