World Intellectual Property Organization

WIPO Member States Advance Work On Traditional Knowledge, Folklore And Genetic Resources

Geneva, May 7, 2010
PR/2010/639

WIPO member states made significant progress in advancing the work of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) this week. This first session of the IGC under its new mandate to conduct "text-based negotiations" to reach agreement on an international legal instrument (or instruments) that ensure the effective protection of traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and genetic resources (GRs), was chaired by Ambassador Philip Owade of Kenya. This session of the IGC met from May 3 to 7, 2010.

At the close of the meeting, Ambassador Owade thanked delegates for their cooperation. He said that the Committee had "broken new ground and that serious work lay ahead."

The IGC agreed on arrangements for intersessional working groups (IWGs), establishing a foundation for continued negotiating rounds. The role of IWGs is to support and facilitate the IGC's negotiations by providing legal and technical advice and analysis, including, where appropriate, options and scenarios. Participation in IWGs is open all member states and accredited observers. Delegations will be represented by one expert each and WIPO's funding arrangements for the IWGs for developing countries and countries in transition will allow the funding of a significant number of delegates. In the first IWG session, tentatively scheduled from July 19 to 23, 2010, delegates from 71 countries will be funded. The first IWG session will focus on TCEs, widely considered to be the most mature of the issues on the IGC's agenda.

Delegates began negotiations on the substance of draft international provisions for the protection of TK and TCEs. Further versions of the provisions, reflecting this week's discussions, will now be prepared by the secretariat for the IGC's consideration. Information notes on the public domain as it relates to TK and TCEs and on the various forms in which TK can be found (e.g. disclosed and non-disclosed) will also be prepared.

Constructive discussions also took place on options for advancing work on intellectual property (IP) issues associated with GRs. The working document on this subject will now be updated in line with these discussions and proposals. A new working document on objectives and principles for IP and GRs submitted towards the end of the meeting by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and the USA will be discussed further at the next session of the IGC in December 2010.

The WIPO Voluntary Fund for Indigenous and Local Communities continued to operate successfully allowing for the participation of ten indigenous representatives in this session. This week's meeting began with a panel discussion of indigenous experts on the theme, "Free, Prior and Informed Consent".

The first day of the IGC's deliberations was crowned by a colorful and vibrant cultural event which offered delegates a glimpse of the richness and depth of cultural diversity and dynamism of South Africa, often referred to as the 'rainbow nation'. The event, co-organized with Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations in Geneva, featured performances by "Montlafi Dooka and Black Earth". It further marked the opening of an exhibition highlighting the way in which South Africa's deep cultural traditions have served as sources of contemporary inspiration and ingenuity infusing the symbols of the iconic FIFA World CupTM soccer tournament which kicks off next month in South Africa. South Africa is the first African nation to host the FIFA World CupTM.

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