World Intellectual Property Organization

IGC 25 Update: Negotiators Tackle Traditional Cultural Expressions, Take Stock of Progress and Discuss Future Work Proposals


Delegates from WIPO member states and observers discuss protection
of traditional cultural expresstions during the 25th session of the
WIPO IGC (Photo: WIPO/Berrod).

Highlights

The 25th session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) from July 15 to 24, 2013, concluded with a revised draft text of an international legal instrument on intellectual property (IP) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). This text will be submitted to the September 2013 session of the WIPO General Assembly.

The IGC also engaged in a review and stock taking of the text, as well as the text(s) of the international legal instrument(s) ensuring the effective protection of traditional knowledge (TK) and genetic resources (GRs).

A "Report of the Proposals Made by Delegations Regarding Future Work of the IGC, Following the Review and Stocktaking Conducted under Agenda Item 7, as at the Close of the Session on July 24, 2013" PDF, Report of the Proposals Made by Delegations Regarding Future Work of the IGC, Following the Review and Stocktaking Conducted under Agenda Item 7, as at the Close of the Session on July 24, 2013 , which outlines a number of options regarding the IGC’e s possible future mandate, was prepared and will be submitted to the 2013 General Assembly.

At stake is a decision on how to fulfill the IGC’s mandate to conclude an international legal instrument(s) ensuring the effective protection of TCEs, TK and GRs. The General Assembly will take stock of progress made and decide on convening a diplomatic conference.

Discussions on TCEs

The IGC session was marked by intense substantive examination of four fundamental issues: defining “traditional cultural expressions”, identifying the beneficiaries of protection, framing the scope of rights and carving out appropriate exceptions and limitations. The complex nature of the issues was generally recognized by both member states and non-governmental organizations, including indigenous groups.

The session was chaired by Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica. He was assisted by the Vice-Chairs of the IGC, Ms. Alexandra Grazioli (Switzerland) and Mr. Bebeb Djundjunan (Indonesia), as well as the Friend of the Chair, Mr. Ian Goss (Australia).

Further detailed information

The session had begun with a review in plenary session of the document WIPO/GRTKF/IC/25/4, “The Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions: Draft Articles”. The IGC then established an informal expert group that worked on the core issues, with a view to reducing the number of options and streamlining the text. The group comprised around 38 experts, with up to six experts per region nominated by the member states, as well as two indigenous experts nominated by indigenous peoples participating in the session. In the interest of transparency, other delegates sat in on the work of the group as observers. Indigenous peoples were also able to nominate two observers to follow the negotiations. All other participants were able to follow the expert group’s deliberations via audio and video feed, in adjoining rooms.

The plenary requested Mr. Dominic Kebbell (New Zealand) and Mr. Tom Suchanandan (South Africa) to act as “facilitators” and tasked them to prepare the further drafts of the text based on the discussions of the plenary and the work of the expert group. To strengthen coordination among the three ongoing thematic negotiations within the IGC (GRs, TK and TCEs), the Chair advised the plenary that he had requested Mr. Ian Goss (Australia) to support the work of the facilitators during the session, as a Friend of the Chair.

The session was marked by an in-depth revision of the text that was presented by the facilitators to the plenary for review. The plenary then decided to transmit the revised text to the WIPO General Assembly which will meet from September 23 to October 2, 2013. In accordance with the IGC’s mandate PDF, Mandate of the IGC and work program for 2013 PDF, IGC Work Program 2013 , the WIPO General Assembly will inter alia take stock of progress made and decide on convening a diplomatic conference.

The Rev. 2, as so corrected and cleaned up, was made available to the Committee for its review and stock taking, as an annex to document WIPO/GRTKF/IC/25/7, “ The Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions: Draft Articles”.

Delegates welcomed the use of small, yet open-ended drafting groups on specific issues, led by key proponents and stakeholders to move forward its work.

Review and stock taking

Pursuant to the IGC’s work program for 2013, the Committee commenced a review and stock taking of the text(s) of the international legal instrument(s) ensuring the effective protection of TCEs, TK and GRs on Monday, July 22, 2013. This involved a review and an assessment of the progress made on documents WIPO/GRTKF/IC/25/5 (Consolidated Document Relating to Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources), WIPO/GRTKF/IC/25/6 (The Protection of Traditional Knowledge: Draft Articles) and WIPO/GRTKF/IC/25/7 (The Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions).

Following the review and stock taking, several proposals were received regarding the future work of the Committee. A "Report of the Proposals Made by Delegations Regarding Future Work of the IGC, Following the Review and Stocktaking Conducted under Agenda Item 7, as at the Close of the Session on July 24, 2013" PDF, Report of the Proposals Made by Delegations Regarding Future Work of the IGC, Following the Review and Stocktaking Conducted under Agenda Item 7, as at the Close of the Session on July 24, 2013 was prepared, at the request of the Committee, by Mr. Ian Goss, as a Friend of the Chair. This report will be submitted to the 2013 WIPO General Assembly.

Observer and indigenous participation

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. Attention was again drawn to the “ indigenous portal”, an initiative of the WIPO Secretariat aimed at easing direct access to resources regarding and of particular interest to indigenous peoples and local communities. The IGC Chair met with the indigenous caucus before and during the session.

The Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Mr. Paul Kanyinke Sena, participated in the session, and, together with Forum member, Ms. Valmaine Toki (see further below), met with the Director General of WIPO, Mr. Francis Gurry. The UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was also represented in the IGC for the first time.

A total of six organizations were accredited as new observers at the session. To provide further clarity with respect to the WIPO accreditation process, the WIPO Secretariat published a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on observer accreditation PDF, Frequently asked questions on participation of observers in the IGC .

The WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities, which received a timely financial boost from Australia and New Zealand prior to the commencement of the session, funded four indigenous and local community participants at the session. The Chair of the IGC reminded the IGC, however, that the Voluntary Fund remained in dire need of further contributions. 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).

Indigenous panel

The session began with an indigenous panel on “Indigenous peoples’ perspectives on intellectual property protection for traditional cultural expressions: beneficiaries, subject matter, rights, and exceptions” PDF, Flyer of IGC 25 Indigenous Panel . Ms. Valmaine Toki, indigenous-nominated Member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Auckland, New Zealand, made a keynote speech. Other panel presentations were made by:

  • Mr. Ramiro Batzin, Executive Director of Centro para la Investigación y Planificación del Desarrollo Maya Sotz’il, Iximulew, Guatemala PDF, Indigenous Panel presentation by Mr. Ramiro Batzin
  • Ms. Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, Legal Desk Coordinator, Tebtebba Foundation, Quezon City, Philippines PDF, Indigenous Panel presentation by Ms. Jennifer Tauli Corpuz
  • Mr. Jon Petter Gintal, Senior Adviser of the Sami Parliament, Karasjok, Norway PDF, Indigenous Panel presentation by Mr. Jim Walker

The Panel was chaired by Mr. Jim Walker of the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (FAIRA).

Side-events

A number of side-events held during the session attracted strong interest. These were:

  • Shared Traditional Knowledge: Issues and Options, presented by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
  • Traditional expressions of culture and contemporary creativity: A perspective from audio-visual artists and creators, presented by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), in association with the Permanent Mission of Trinidad and Tobago and the Permanent Mission of the United States of America
  • La nouvelle règlementation du patrimoine culturel au Cameroun, présentée par Dr Rachel-Claire OKANI, Expert pays CIPI - OMPI/RGSTF, Université de Yaoundé II, Cameroun
  • WIPO Project on Intellectual Property and Product Branding for Business Development in Developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), presented by the WIPO Secretariat

Evaluation of IGC support services

As part of efforts to improve the service delivery by the WIPO Secretariat to the IGC, the WIPO Internal Audit and Oversight Division conducted an evaluation of the WIPO Secretariat’s support services to the Committee during the session. This was to assess the quality, timeliness and relevance of the services provided by the WIPO Secretariat (administration and organization) in support of the IGC.

Documents, decisions, report and participants

  • IGC 25 documents at a glance
  • Formal decisions of the session
  • The draft report of IGC 25 will be tabled for adoption at a next session of the IGC, the holding and timing of which will be determined by the WIPO General Assembly.
  • The Committee was attended by participants from 93 countries and 49 observers and the European Union.
 

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