IGC 19 Update: WIPO IGC Agrees to Extend and Strengthen Negotiating Mandate, Makes Substantive Progress on TK, TCEs and GRs.

July 28, 2011

New mandate for 2012-2013

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) has agreed to expedite its work towards agreement on the protection of traditional knowledge (TK), genetic resources (GRs) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs).

Meeting from July 18 to 22, 2011, the IGC agreed to recommend that the WIPO General Assembly renew its mandate for the 2012-2013 biennium - this decision is expected to be endorsed by the 2011 session of the WIPO General Assembly, taking place from September 26 to October 5, 2011.

The proposed new mandate, recognizing the progress made by the IGC during its work in 2010 and 2011, calls for its text-based negotiations to be expedited “with the objective of reaching agreement on a text(s) of an international legal instrument(s) which will ensure the effective protection of GRs, TK and TCEs”.

For the 2012/2013 biennium, the IGC will follow a clearly defined work program, and meet three times before the 2012 WIPO General Assembly. Each session will focus on one of the IGC’s three themes. The first IGC session under the new mandate is expected to take place in February 2012, and it will address GRs. The subsequent two are tentatively expected to take place in April 2012 (TK) and July 2012 (TCEs).

The IGC is requested to submit to the 2012 General Assembly the text(s) of an international legal instrument(s), and the General Assembly “will take stock of and consider the text(s), progress made and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference”. The full decision will shortly be available under " IGC 19 Decisions”.

The session was chaired by His Excellency Ambassador Philip Owade (Kenya). In successfully brokering an agreement on the new mandate, the Chair was assisted by “Friends of the Chair”, comprising representatives from all regional groupings and the IGC’s Vice-Chairs, Mr. José Ramon Lopez de Leon Ibarra (Mexico) and Mr. Vladimir Yossifov (Bulgaria).

Substantive progress

On each of the three substantive themes (TK, TCEs and GRs), the IGC discussed current draft texts in plenary session. The Chair framed the discussion in each case, by identifying key issues arising from the most critical articles. The Chair then invited “Facilitators” to try to further consolidate and streamline them. The Facilitators thereafter presented the results of their work to the plenary, which accepted the drafts prepared by the Facilitators as the bases for future work. The texts as prepared by the Facilitators, respectively on TK, TCEs and GRs, were, therefore, transmitted by the IGC to its next session. They will also be presented to the General Assembly in September 2011, as part of the IGC’s general report.

The Facilitator on TCEs was Ms. Kim Connolly-Stone (New Zealand). The Facilitators on TK were Ms. Andrea Bonnet Lopez (Colombia) and Mr. Nicolas Lesieur (Canada), and on GRs, Mr. Ian Goss (Australia) and Mr. Hem Pande (India).

The Delegation of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of a cross-regional group of like-minded developing countries, presented draft texts on TK, TCEs and GRs to the session, and these were issued in the course of the session as working documents. The IGC agreed to transmit these texts to its next session.

On GRs, discussion was also held on defensive databases, a proposed mandatory disclosure requirement and intellectual property clauses in mutually agreed terms for access and equitable benefit sharing. The IGC requested the secretariat to finalize, and update regularly as required, the activities relating to mutually-agreed terms for fair and equitable benefit-sharing, and to provide information thereon to the IGC at each session. The secretariat was requested to re-issue the relevant document (WIPO/GRTKF/IC/19/7), including Clusters A (“Options on defensive protection of genetic resources”) and B (“Options on disclosure requirement”), as a working document for the next session.

Finally, the IGC requested the secretariat to update the three existing glossaries on TK, TCEs and GRs, and to consolidate them into one. The new consolidated glossary will be published as an information document for the next session.

All documents for the session are available at http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=22208.

Observers’ participation

Observers participate actively in the work of the IGC - over 260 NGOs are accredited to the IGC, many representing the interests of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Indigenous representatives delivered a joint statement identifying their substantive expectations and calling for their more effective participation in all negotiations and decision-making processes. In this respect, the IGC recommended that the General Assembly, “with a view to enhancing the positive contribution of observers, [invite] the Committee to review its procedures in this regard”. To facilitate this review, the secretariat would be requested to prepare a study outlining current practices and potential options. The study is expected to be presented to the IGC at its next session.

His Excellency Ambassador Owade encouraged indigenous participants and state representatives to interact more frequently. The Chair met with the indigenous participants on several occasions during the week.

The theme for this session’s indigenous panel was “Making Sui Generis Protection Work: Best Practices in Community-Led Strategies for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions” PDF, Flyer for indigenous panel on Making Sui Generis Protection Work: Best Practices in Community-Led Strategies for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions .

Several additional NGOs were accredited to the IGC and WIPO continued to fund a dedicated secretariat for Indigenous participants during IGC sessions.

Funding for Indigenous participation remains a concern, and the Chair and the WIPO secretariat repeated calls for voluntary contributions to the WIPO Voluntary Fund.

Contribution of the IGC to the implementation of the Development Agenda Recommendations: The IGC discussed this item, and decided that all statements made thereon would be recorded in the report of the IGC and be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly.