World Intellectual Property Organization

Experts Break New Ground in Traditional Cultural Expression Talks

Geneva, July 23, 2010
PR/2010/652

Experts from WIPO member states rolled up their sleeves this week and got down to the nitty-gritty of discussions aimed at reaching agreement on an international legal instrument (or instruments) to ensure the effective protection of traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and genetic resources (GRs). Their work focused on what is considered to be the most mature of the three subjects - TCEs - covered by the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). 

Last May, the IGC agreed on arrangements for intersessional working groups (IWGs) to support and facilitate the IGC's negotiations by providing legal and technical advice and analysis, including, where appropriate, various options and scenarios. Member states agreed that delegations at the IWGs would be limited to one technical expert each. 

This new format – this is the first such mechanism for the IGC’s negotiations - resulted in an intense drafting session on TCEs at this week’s first meeting of the IWG. Experts, participating in their personal capacities, engaged in lively and active discussion. The specific expertise of the participants and the relatively small size of the meeting contributed to its success.  In addition to experts from WIPO member states, indigenous experts and NGOs also took part in the informal and open-ended drafting groups 

Each of these groups worked on drafting a specific article.  Experts from around the world worked side by side, debating and drafting together, inside and outside the main conference room. The groups came up with further revised versions of all the articles, which were presented to and discussed by the IWG as a whole. 

The outcomes of this week's IWG will be sent to the IGC for consideration at its next meeting.  The IWG has no mandate to take decisions or adopt any texts, but its work contributes richly to the evolution of the texts under negotiation in the IGC. 

In closing the session, the Chair of this first IWG, Mrs, Savitri Suwansathit from Thailand, praised the experts for their active participation and dedication. Ms. Ndeye Abibatou Youm Diabe Sibi (Senegal), Mr. Norman Bowman (Australia), Ms. Vladia Borissova (Bulgaria) and Mr. Eduardo Tempone (Argentina) served as Vice-chairs of the IWG. 

The IGC meets again from December 6 to 10, 2010.

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