Summary of IGC 33

April 13, 2017

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a week-long session on March 3, 2017 in which a further draft of an international legal instrument on intellectual property and traditional cultural expressions was developed.

IGC 33 was the first session to address traditional cultural expressions under the new mandate for 2016-2017 and it 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.

Plenary and informal sessions

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

The plenary began with discussion on policy objectives, the use of terms section, subject matter, beneficiaries, scope of protection and exceptions and limitations. Informals were convened on Tuesday and on Thursday to further discuss those key issues, as well as the principles/preamble/introduction part and administration of rights/interests.  The group comprised around 40 experts, with up to six delegates per region nominated by the Member States, as well as two indigenous experts nominated by indigenous peoples participating in the session.  Other delegates were able to sit in as observers without speaking rights, with indigenous peoples also able to nominate two additional participants without speaking rights.  All other participants were able to follow the deliberations via audio feed in an adjoining room.

The plenary requested Ms. Margo Bagley (Mozambique) and Ms. Marcela Paiva (Chile) to act as “facilitators”.  On February 28, 2017, the facilitators presented, as their “work-in-progress”, a note on:

  • policy objectives,
  • use of terms,
  • subject matter,
  • beneficiaries of protection,
  • scope of protection,
  • administration of rights/interests, and
  • exceptions and limitations.

The aim was 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/33/4.

Based on the discussions in the plenary and informals, the facilitators then presented to the plenary a Rev. 1 document on March 1, 2017, and a Rev. 2 document on March 3, 2017.  The Plenary noted the Rev.2 as the basis for future work on traditional cultural expressions and agreed to transmit it to IGC 34 (this will be inter alia a stock-taking session and it will take place from June 12 to 16, 2017).

Certain Member States made submissions (see documents WIPO/GRTKF/IC/33/5 and WIPO/GRTKF/IC/33/6) which were introduced and discussed in plenary.

The decisions and all the documents of the session, including the Rev. 2 document, are available online.

Repository of resources on regional, national, local and community experiences

At the request of the IGC, the Secretariat recalled for participants that the traditional knowledge web pages on the WIPO website contain a wealth of information on regional, national, local and community experiences on intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.  A repository of resources includes laws, survey, case studies, presentations and other resources.

Voluntary Fund

The Committee was pleased to welcome a contribution by the Government of Australia of AUD 50,000 to the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities and strongly encouraged other members of the Committee and all interested public or private entities to contribute to the Fund.

Earlier in the week, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and the IGC Chair reminded the IGC that the Voluntary Fund had run out of funds and was in dire need of new contributions.

Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ participation

The WIPO Secretariat facilitated a preparatory meeting of the Indigenous Caucus (the meeting is referred to as the “Indigenous Consultative Forum”) on the Sunday before the session began, February 26, 2017, at WIPO Headquarters, as per previous practice.  Additionally, the Indigenous Caucus organized daily meetings during the session, and also separately met with the IGC Chair.  The WIPO Secretariat continued to fund administrative 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 Cultural Expressions:  Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Perspectives”, was held on February 27, 2017.  The keynote speaker was Professor Rebecca Tsosie, Member of the Yaqui People;  Regents’ Professor of Law at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona and Tribal Court Judge for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

The other two panelists were Mr. Kanyinke Sena, Member of the Maasai Peoples, Kenya and Lecturer at the School of Law at Egerton University, Nakuru, Kenya;  and, Ms. Lucia Fernanda Inácio Belfort Sales, Member of the Kaingáng Peoples, Brazil and Lawyer and Executive Director of the Brazilian Indigenous Institute of Intellectual Property (InBraPi).

Final report

The initial draft report of IGC 33 will be prepared and circulated by April 21, 2017.  It will be tabled for adoption at IGC 34.


The Committee session was attended by participants from 93 countries and 30 observers.

IGC 33 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.

One organization was accredited as a new observer at the session.

IGC 34

IGC 34, which will address traditional cultural expressions and undertake a stocktaking of progress made, will take place from June 12 to 16, 2017.  It will be preceded by a Seminar on Intellectual Property and Traditional Cultural Expressions on June 8 and 9, 2017.

Video summary

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