Update on the 28th Session of the WIPO IGC

July 18, 2014

Negotiators review cross-cutting elements of the genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions texts, take stock of progress and discuss future work proposals

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a three-day session on July 9, 2014. At the session, delegates engaged in cross-cutting discussions across the Committee’s three themes: genetic resources (GRs), traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). Delegates also took stock of progress and discussed future work proposals.

The 28th session of the WIPO IGC was attended by participants from 101 member states, the European Union and 38 observers (photo: WIPO). More IGC photos on Flickr.

At the close of the session, the Committee confirmed that the Consolidated Document Relating to Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, as well as the draft articles on the protection of TK and on the protection of TCEs, as developed during the 26th and 27th sessions of the Committee, respectively, be transmitted to the September 2014 session of the WIPO General Assembly. The Committee also decided that statements made by Delegations, regarding the future work of the Committee, be transmitted to the 2014 General Assembly, for its consideration. The General Assembly will decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference and consider the IGC’s schedule of sessions for 2015.

Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica chaired the Session. The Vice-chairs of the IGC for this biennium are Ms. Ahlem Sara Charikhi of Algeria, Ms. Alexandra Grazioli of Switzerland and Mr. Abdulkadir Jailani of Indonesia.


In accordance with the IGC’s 2014 work program PDF, IGC schedule for 2014, and further to the decisions taken by the Committee at its 26th and 27th sessions, the session’s negotiations comprised two main elements:

  1. A review of the cross-cutting elements contained within the respective text(s) of an international legal instrument(s), which, at the close of IGC 26 and 27, were transmitted to the General Assembly, subject to any agreed adjustments or modifications arising on cross-cutting issues at IGC 28.
  2. A stock taking of the Committee’s progress and the making of a recommendation to the General Assembly.

Cross-cutting review

During the session’s cross-cutting review, delegates focused their interventions on the elements of the respective thematic texts that they considered to cut across two or more of the texts and/or pervaded any one of the texts. This review was aimed at considering whether, on the basis of the identified cross-cutting elements, the texts (or any one of them) could be adjusted or modified by the 28th Session, before being transmitted to the 2014 General Assembly.

To assist delegations in preparing for the session, and with specific reference to the cross-cutting review, the Chair of the IGC had made available an informal issues paper, reflecting his views on some possible cross-cutting issues that delegates might wish to consider. This informal paper identified 17 cross-cutting GRs/TK/TCEs issues, which, as clarified by the Chair, were not expected to indicate an exhaustive list, but were rather to serve as mere points of departure for the discussions. Some of the Chair’s identified cross-cutting issues, including their thematic areas of relevance, are listed below:

  • Policy objectives (GRs/TK/TCE)
  • Definitions/use of terms (GRs/TK/TCEs)
  • Criteria for eligibility (TK/TCEs)
  • Beneficiaries (TK/TCEs)
  • Scope of protection (TK/TCEs)
  • Databases and information systems (TK/GRs)
  • Sanctions, remedies and exercise of rights (TK/TCEs)
  • The disclosure requirement (TK/GRs)
  • Exceptions and limitations (TK/TCEs)
  • Term of protection/rights (TK/TCEs)
  • Formalities (TK/TCEs)
  • Transitional measures (TK/TCEs)
  • Relationship with other agreements and the non-diminishment clause (GRs/TK/TCEs)
  • National treatment (TK/TCEs)
  • Transboundary cooperation (GRs/TK/TCEs)
  • Capacity building (GRs/TK/TCEs)
  • Structure of text and headings of articles (GRs/TK/TCEs)

Delegations, largely in the course of informal discussions, addressed these issues as well as other cross-cutting issues which they identified.

Stock taking and making a recommendation to the General Assembly

Delegates were invited to provide their views on the state of the respective texts with an emphasis on the progress they considered to have been made. Discussions were also held on the future work program for the IGC. At the close of these consultations, the Committee decided to transmit the statements made in this regard to the 2014 General Assembly, for its further consideration.


For the cross-cutting review of the texts, as well as the stock taking and making of a recommendation to the General Assembly, discussions were carried out in plenary and within an expert group established by the IGC. The expert group, whose discussions are informal, comprised around 45 experts, with up to seven experts per region nominated by the member states, as well as two indigenous experts nominated by indigenous peoples participating in the session. All other delegates and indigenous peoples were able to sit in on the work of the expert group as observers without speaking rights.

The plenary requested Mr. Nicolas Lesieur (Canada), Ms. Margo Bagley (Mozambique), Mr. Justin Sobion (Trinidad and Tobago) and Mr. Emmanuel Sackey (ARIPO), who had served as facilitators at IGC 26 and/or IGC 27, to act as “facilitators” for the cross-cutting review. They were tasked with implementing any adjustments or modifications to the texts, based on the cross-cutting discussions.

With respect to the discussions on the future work of the Committee, the Friend of the Chair, Mr. Ian Goss, convened an informal consultative group, made up of two delegates per region, one of whom was the regional coordinator. The informal consultative group carried out its discussions in parallel with the expert group. It kept the plenary regularly informed as to its progress.

Work schedule

The plenary, on Monday afternoon, July 7, commenced its discussions with an initial identification of possible cross-cutting issues that could be considered in the expert group.

On Tuesday, July 8, the cross-cutting discussion was resumed in the expert group formation. Six main cross-cutting issues, arising from the plenary discussions on Monday, were isolated for discussion in the expert group (in no particular order): capacity building (GRs, TK, TCEs), disclosure requirement (GRs, TK), a tiered approach to the protection of TK and TCEs, non-diminishment provisions (GRs, TK, TCEs), objectives (GRs, TK, TCEs) and public domain (TK, TCEs).

In parallel, on Tuesday morning, the Friend of the Chair commenced his consultations regarding the future work of the Committee and a possible recommendation in this regard to the General Assembly. The expert group was reconvened to continue its cross-cutting review of the texts on Wednesday, July 9, after a brief plenary. The informal consultative group led by the Friend of the Chair was also continued.

On Wednesday afternoon, the plenary was convened to consider the outcome of the cross-cutting review within the expert group and the informal consultations regarding the future work as led by the Friend of the Chair. With respect to the former, the Committee confirmed that the texts, as developed during IGC 26 and IGC 27, be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly without any adjustments or modifications arising from its just concluded cross-cutting review.

With respect to the future work of the Committee, delegates were invited to express their views and outline their specific proposals. The Committee decided that all such statements and proposals made in this regard be transmitted to the 2014 General Assembly, for its consideration.

In accordance with the IGC’s mandate PDF, Mandate of the IGC and work program for 2014, the WIPO General Assembly will, with a view to finalising the text(s) within the biennium, inter alia take stock of progress made and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference and consider the need for additional meetings, taking account of the budgetary process.


IGC Preparation Kit

In line with attempts to assist delegations to prepare for sessions of the IGC, the WIPO Secretariat has continued to maintain its “IGC Preparation Kit” updated with relevant preparatory information for each upcoming IGC session. Relevant documents and materials for IGC 28 were collated and made directly accessible here.

Voluntary Fund

The WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities was again unable to fund any indigenous and local community participant to the Twenty-Eighth Session due to lack of funds. The WIPO Director General, as well as the Chair of the IGC, reiterated the need for member states to come up with solutions to ensure the sustainability of the Fund and the continued participation of indigenous peoples and local communities within the process.

The Delegations of Australia, Finland, New Zealand and Switzerland resubmitted their proposal, Participation of Indigenous and Local Communities: Proposal for Subsidiary Contributions to the Voluntary Fund, the discussion of which had been deferred to the 28th session by IGC 27. The proposal was aimed at amending aspects of the rules of the Voluntary Fund, to enable the WIPO regular budget to be used to supplement the Voluntary Fund, where, as in the present case, there were no voluntary contributions available. The Committee discussed and took note of the proposal, as well as the intention of the proponents to submit a proposal with detailed modalities in this regard for the consideration of the WIPO Program and Budget Committee in September 2014.

Indigenous peoples and local community participation

The WIPO Secretariat facilitated, as usual, a meeting of the Indigenous Caucus (the meeting is known as the “Indigenous Consultative Forum”) on the Sunday before the session began, July 6, 2014, at WIPO Headquarters. Additionally, the indigenous caucus organized daily meetings during the session. The WIPO Secretariat continued to fund secretarial services (secretarial, interpretation and translation) for indigenous and local communities at the session, provided by the Documentation Centre for Indigenous Peoples (DoCip). The IGC Chair met with the Caucus co-chairs and two other members of the Caucus during the session.

Indigenous panel

An indigenous panel, titled "Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions: Indigenous Perspectives on Cross-Cutting Issues in the WIPO IGC" PDF, Flyer on indigenous panel on IP, traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources was held on Monday morning. The keynote speaker was Ms. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Chair, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), while other panelists were Mr. Marcial Arias, Policy Advisor, Asociación Kunas Unidos por Napguana (KUNA), Panama, and Ms. Lucy Mulenkei, Executive Director, Indigenous Information Network (IIN), Kenya.

The session was attended by over 300 participants, including representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities (photo: WIPO). More IGC photos on Flickr.

Many delegates welcomed and attended the Panel, thanks particularly to the high caliber of the panelists who addressed directly the issues under negotiation at the session.


The draft report of IGC 28 will be tabled for adoption at the next session of the IGC which, subject to the decision of the 2014 General Assembly, will be held in 2015. An initial draft report of IGC 28 will be made available on our website by September 19, 2014.


The Committee was attended by participants from 101 member states, the European Union and 38 observers. Two organizations were accredited as new observers at the session.

Side events

Incomindios organized a side event at lunchtime on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, entitled“IGC – The Now and How it Will Continue.” It attracted strong interest and was well attended.

2014 General Assemblies

The WIPO General Assemblies will take place from September 22 to 30, 2014.