IGC 22 Update: Negotiators advance on text on the protection of traditional cultural expressions

July 16, 2012

Geneva, July 13, 2012

Delegates at the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a week-long session on July 13, 2012 on the latest draft of the text of an international legal instrument on the protection of traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), with good progress on the definition of protectable TCEs, the identification of the beneficiaries and on exceptions and limitations to the scope of protection.

The IGC established an informal expert group that worked to reduce the number of options and to reach compromise on divergent views. The expert group comprised around 36 experts, with up to five experts per region nominated by the States, as well as an indigenous expert nominated by indigenous peoples participating in the session. Other delegates could sit in on the work of the group as observers.

The plenary session requested Ms. Kim Connolly-Stone (New Zealand) to act as “facilitator” to the expert group and the plenary and tasked her to prepare the various drafts of the text based on the discussions of the plenary and the work of the expert group. Ms Connolly-Stone was also asked to facilitate the IGC’s and experts’ work by identifying outstanding issues and options. The expert group, chaired by the IGC Chair, Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica, worked on the text on Wednesday July 11 and much of Thursday July 12 and presented it for review by the plenary on July 13, 2012.

The IGC decided that the text will be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly, which will meet from October 1 to 9, 2012, as “work in progress.” In accordance with the IGC’s mandate, the WIPO General Assembly will take stock of and consider the text and progress made, and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference. The WIPO General Assembly will also consider the need for additional meetings. The IGC, in February 2012 and April 2012 respectively, similarly decided to transmit texts on genetic resources and traditional knowledge to the General Assembly.

The IGC also expressed views on and discussed observers’ participation, the contribution of the IGC to the attainment of the Development Agenda and future matters concerning the IGC. On observers’ participation, the IGC additionally heard a report from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The commencement of the session was delayed as a result of disagreement among certain delegations on an item (Item 9) on the agenda.  The disagreement was resolved after consensus was reached, and the agenda was adopted with a revised agenda item 9 (WIPO/GRTKF/IC/22/1 Prov. 4). Delegates then worked intensively on the text to make up for the time lost.

In line with further attempts to strengthen observer participation, the WIPO Secretariat provided an extensive briefing for observers on the first day of the session.

The IGC Chair, Ambassador Wayne McCook, met with the Indigenous Caucus on various occasions before and during the session.

A number of organizations were accredited as observers at the session. The WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities funded six indigenous and local community participants at the session. The WIPO Secretariat continued to fund secretarial services for indigenous and local communities at the session, provided by the Documentation Centre for Indigenous Peoples (DoCip).

The session began with an Indigenous Panel which focused specifically on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the protection of TCEs. The keynote speaker was Valmaine Toki, Vice-Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand, while other panelists were Les Malezer, Co-Chair, National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, Sydney, Australia, Mattias Åhrén, Head of the Saami Council Human Rights Unit and Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Tromsø, Norway and Paul Kanyinke Sena, Member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and East Africa Regional Representative, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), Narok, Kenya. The Panel was chaired by Patricia Adjei, Indigenous Solicitor, Arts Law Centre of Australia, Sydney. Many delegates welcomed the Panel, particularly because of the high caliber of the panelists and because they addressed the issues under negotiation at the session.

Documents for IGC 22 are available here.

The report of IGC 22 will be tabled for adoption at IGC 23 taking place in 2013.

The Committee was attended by participants from 101 countries and 43 observers. It was chaired by His Excellency Ambassador Wayne McCook (Jamaica). Ms. Alexandra Grazioli (Switzerland) and Mr. Bebeb Djundjunan (Indonesia) are the Committee’s Vice-Chairs.