IGC 20 Update: WIPO Negotiators Consolidate Proposals on Genetic Resources into Single Text

February 29, 2012

Geneva, February 27, 2012

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), meeting from February 14 to 22, 2012, moved forward in its negotiations on intellectual property and genetic resources with the consolidation of a number of proposals into a single text.

In accordance with the IGC’s mandate, this document – which consolidates a slew of various written proposals and discussions in plenary – will be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly meeting in October 2012. Initial drafts of the consolidated document were prepared, during the session, by facilitators identified by the Committee, namely Mr. Ian Goss (Australia), Mr. Tom Suchanandan (South Africa), Ms.Chandni Raina and Mr. Biswagit Dhar (India). The Committee worked intensively and collaboratively, including over a Saturday.

During this session of the IGC, the Delegations of Canada, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America submitted a new proposal, namely a “Joint Recommendation on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge”. The Committee invited the proponents to resubmit this proposal, if they deem fit, at the next IGC session dealing with the theme of genetic resources.

On observers’ participation, the Committee examined a draft study on ways in which the participation of observers, especially representatives of indigenous and local communities, could be enhanced. This draft had been prepared by the Secretariat of WIPO at the request of the WIPO General Assembly in 2011. The IGC supported a range of new measures to further improve the inclusivity of the process.

The IGC also requested further information from the WIPO Secretariat on proposed changes to the accreditation and funding procedures for observers and proposed revisions to the format of Indigenous Panels which precede each session of the IGC. This additional information will be discussed at the next IGC (April 2012).

A number of indigenous representatives left the session on February 21, 2012, citing inter alia, “the continued reduction of the amount and level of our participation in this process”. They reconsidered their decision after meeting informally with the Chair, and then rejoined the meeting the following day. In returning to the meeting, the indigenous participants made several proposals to enhance their effective participation in the process.

The IGC also amended its rules of procedures to recognize existing practice whereby IGC documents are made available in all six United Nations languages.

At the request of the member states, Saturday February 18, 2012 was designated as “ Cultural/Traditional Attire Day”. Participants wore cultural or traditional attire from their respective countries and the day began with an indigenous performance by two indigenous participants, Mr. Tomás CONDORI (Indian Council of South America (CISA)) and Mr. Tomás Jesús ALARCÓN EYZAGUIRRE (Comisión Jurídica para el Autodesarrollo de los Pueblos Originarios Andinos (CAPAJ)).

All documents for IGC 20 are available at http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=25008.

The decisions taken by the Committee at this session are available here: http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/doc_details.jsp?doc_id=198517.  

The report of IGC 20 will be tabled for adoption at IGC 22 taking place in July 2012.

The IGC, which was attended by participants from 112 countries and 59 observers, was chaired by Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Wayne McCook. Ms. Alexandra Grazioli (Switzerland) was elected as Vice-Chair. A second Vice-Chair will be elected at the next IGC session in April 2012.

The IGC meets again (IGC 21) in April 2012 (April 16 to 20, 2012) to discuss the theme of traditional knowledge.