Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

A Summary of IGC 31

September 25, 2016

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a week-long session on September 23, 2016 after extensive discussions on many of the core issues identified in the current IGC mandate, namely objectives, beneficiaries, subject matter, scope of protection and the meaning of “misappropriation”.

This was the first session to address traditional knowledge under the new mandate for 2016-2017 PDF, mandate 2016-2017 and was chaired by Mr. Ian Goss (Australia) who had circulated an informal information note prior to the session to assist participants in their substantive preparations for the meeting.

Work during the week-long session was divided into a series of plenary meetings and “informals”.

In opening the session, the Chair reminded IGC participants that IGC 31 and the next session, IGC 32, would both address traditional knowledge and called on participants therefore to treat the two sessions collectively, with the aim of producing a “result” or “output” by the end of IGC 32.

Informals were convened on Tuesday afternoon and on Thursday to further discuss core issues. The national experiences of Ecuador, Fiji and South Africa were presented informally and widely discussed.

The plenary requested Ms. Margo Bagley (Mozambique), Ms. Ema Hao’uli (New Zealand) and Mr. Emilio Uzcátegui Jiménez (Ecuador) to act as “facilitators”. On September 20, 2016, the facilitators presented, as their “work-in-progress”, a note on policy objectives, use of terms, subject matter and beneficiaries of protection, to elicit comments from Member States prior to the production of a first revision (“Rev. 1”) of the draft text contained in document WIPO/GRTKF/IC/31/4. Based on the discussions in the plenary and informals, the facilitators then presented to the plenary a Rev. 1 document on September 21, 2016, and a Rev. 2 document on September 23, 2016. The Plenary noted and agreed to transmit the Rev. 2 to IGC 32.

As required by the IGC’s mandate, the Committee also transmitted to IGC 32 an “Indicative List of Outstanding/Pending Issues to be Tackled/Solved at the Next Session”, prepared by the Chair.

Certain Member States filed submissions (see documents WIPO/GRTKF/IC/31/5, WIPO/GRTKF/IC/31/6, WIPO/GRTKF/IC/31/7, WIPO/GRTKF/IC/31/8 and WIPO/GRTKF/IC/31/9) which were also introduced and discussed in plenary.

The decisions, which include as an annex the “Indicative List of Outstanding/Pending Issues to be Tackled/Solved at the Next Session”, and all the documents of the session are available on line.

The Committee discussed the contribution of the IGC to the implementation of the respective Development Agenda recommendations. The statements made under this agenda item will be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly which takes place from October 3 to 11, 2016.

Voluntary Fund

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and IGC Chair Goss reminded the IGC that the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities has run out of funds and is in dire need of new contributions.

The Chair acknowledged the financial support provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) directly to the indigenous representatives who had been recommended for funding by the Advisory Board of the Voluntary Fund to attend IGC 31.

Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Participation

The WIPO Secretariat facilitated a meeting of the Indigenous Caucus (the Indigenous Consultative Forum) on the Sunday before the session began, September 18, 2016, at WIPO Headquarters, as per previous practice. Additionally, the Indigenous Caucus organized daily meetings during the session. The WIPO Secretariat continued to fund secretarial services (secretariat, interpretation and translation) for indigenous and local communities at the session, provided by the Documentation Centre for Indigenous Peoples (DoCip).

Indigenous Panel

An Indigenous Panel , entitled “IGC Draft Articles on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge: Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Perspectives”, was held on September 19, 2016. The keynote speaker was Dr. Laila Susanne Vars, Member of the Sami People, Norway; Member of the Sami Parliament; Negotiator on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and, Director of the Galdu – Resource Centre for Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Norway.

The other two panelists were Ms. Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, Member of Kankana-ey Igorot People of Mountain Province, Philippines and Legal Coordinator, Tebtebba, Philippines; and, Mr. Jim Walker, Member of the Iman and Goreng Goreng Peoples, Australia, and Member of the Boards of Directors of the Murri Mura Aboriginal Corporation and the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research, Australia. The Panel was chaired by Mr. Herson Huinca - Pictrin, Pueblo Mapuche, Comunidad de Historia Mapuche, Chile

Final Report

The draft report of IGC 31 will be prepared and circulated by October 28, 2016. It will be tabled for adoption at IGC 32.


The Committee was attended by participants from 83 countries and 32 observers.

IGC 31 was chaired by Mr. Ian Goss of Australia, with Mr. Jukka Liedes of Finland and Ambassador Robert Matheus Michael Tene of Indonesia as Vice-Chairs.

A total of five organizations were accredited as new observers at the session.

IGC 32

IGC 32, which will also address traditional knowledge, will take place from November 28 to December 2, 2016. It will be preceded by a two day seminar on November 24 and 25, 2016.

Documents for IGC 32 are already available on the WIPO website.

Video summary

Wend Wendland, Director of WIPO's Traditional Knowledge Division and Secretary of the IGC, sums up the session that addressed traditional knowledge.