IGC Makes Significant Progress, Sets the Stage for Working Groups on GRs and TK

Geneva, 10-12-2010

Negotiators from WIPO’s 184 member states and other stakeholders made significant progress this week during a session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). In addition to advancing on key substantive issues, the IGC defined the work to be undertaken by two intersessional working groups on traditional knowledge (TK) and genetic resources (GRs) that will meet in February 2011. 

The Chairperson of the IGC, Ambassador Philip Owade of Kenya, welcomed the positive and constructive atmosphere that prevailed throughout the session, which met from December 6-10, 2010. The IGC has a mandate to conduct "text-based negotiations" to reach agreement on an international legal instrument (or instruments) that ensure the effective protection of TK, traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and GRs.  

A major feature of this week’s session was the establishment of an open-ended drafting group to streamline articles on TCEs that had been developed by an intersessional working group (IWG 1) in July 2010. The articles developed by the drafting group, which are now less complex and contain fewer options and alternatives, were noted by the IGC and will be examined again by negotiators at the IGC’s next session in May 2011.  The Chair was also mandated to undertake informal consultations to try to further refine the text and identify the key outstanding policy issues for consideration by the IGC, the main negotiating and decision-making body. The IGC will meet again from May 9 to 13, 2011. 

The IGC also reviewed the draft articles on TK and transmitted them for consideration at the next IWG which will take place from February 21 to 25, 2011.  

Glossaries on TK and TCEs, to complement a glossary on genetic resources, will also be prepared to facilitate the negotiations. 

The third IWG, to take place from February 28 to March 4, 2011, will address the subject of intellectual property and genetic resources. The Committee transmitted a series of existing documents to IWG 3, and suggested that IWG 3 prepare a draft text of objectives and principles as well as a draft list of options for future work. These would be transmitted for consideration by the Committee at its next session in May 2011.  Discussions on genetic resources also saw the introduction of new proposals by the African Group and by Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, and the United States of America. 

A fund-raising initiative for the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities was launched by WIPO at the session.  South Africa pledged a contribution to the Fund.  The Chair strongly encouraged other delegations to also contribute.  This session also saw the accreditation of several new NGOs to the Committee. 

A new publication “Intellectual Property and the Safeguarding of Traditional Cultures: Legal Issues and Practical Options for Museums, Libraries and Archives” was launched at the meeting. This publication offers intellectual property information for cultural institutions whose collections comprise TCEs and presents examples of best practices from around the world, drawn from various institutional and community experiences.

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