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Summary of IGC 34

September 29, 2017

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a week-long session on June 16, 2017 in which a next draft of an international legal instrument on intellectual property and traditional cultural expressions was developed.  The Thirty‑Fourth Session of the IGC also took stock of the progress made over the 2016‑2017 biennium and made a recommendation to the General Assembly.  

A Seminar on Intellectual Property and Traditional Cultural Expressions was held on June 8 and 9, 2017, just prior to the IGC session.  In the margins of the session, two new WIPO publications were launched and the WIPO Secretariat announced a new Indigenous scholarship aimed especially at Indigenous women and youth.  Several side-events were held, including one on capacity-building support provided by the WIPO Secretariat in partnership with the ABS Capacity Development Initiative.

This was the second session to address traditional cultural expressions under the 2016-2017 mandatePDF, IGC mandate 2016-2017 and it was chaired by Mr. Ian Goss (Australia) who had circulated an informal information note on traditional cultural expressions, and an informal information note on discussions under Agenda Item 8 (“Taking Stock of Progress and Making a Recommendation to the General Assembly”) prior to the session to assist participants in their preparations for the meeting.

Work during the week-long session was mainly divided into a series of plenary meetings and “informals” on Agenda Item 7 (“Traditional Cultural Expressions”), and plenary meetings and “informal consultations” on Agenda Item 8 (“Taking Stock of Progress and Making a Recommendation to the General Assembly”).

Plenary and informal sessions on Agenda Item 7 ("Traditional Cultural Expressions")

On Agenda Item 7, the plenary began with discussion on policy objectives, subject matter, beneficiaries and scope of protection.  Informals were convened on Tuesday to further discuss outstanding/pending issues to be tackled/solved.  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. Ema Hao’uli (New Zealand) to act as “facilitators” under Agenda Item 7.  On June 13, 2017, the facilitators presented, as their “work-in-progress”, a note on beneficiaries of protection and scope 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/34/6.  Based on the discussions in the plenary and informals, the facilitators then presented to the plenary a Rev. 1 document on June 14, 2017, and a Rev. 2 document on June 15, 2017.  The Plenary noted the Rev.2 as the basis for future work on TCEs and decided that it be considered under Agenda Item 8, as document WIPO/GRTKF/IC/34/8.

One Member State made a submission under Agenda Item 7 (see document WIPO/GRTKF/IC/32/12) which was noted.

Plenary and informal consultations on Agenda Item 8 (“Taking Stock of Progress and Making a Recommendation to the General Assembly”)

On Agenda Item 8, the plenary began on June 12, 2017 with statements from each regional group, the European Union, the Like-Minded Countries, and the Indigenous Caucus.  Informal consultations, chaired by Mr. Jukka Liedes (Finland), a Vice‑Chair of the IGC, were convened throughout the week to take stock of progress and discuss a recommendation to the General Assembly.  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. 

The plenary requested Ms. Marcela Paiva (Chile) to act as a “facilitator” under Agenda Item 8.

As an outcome, the Committee noted that progress had been made on the three texts (genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions) and recommended that the WIPO General Assembly decide that the Committee should continue its work during the 2018-2019 biennium and that the Assembly should decide on a mandate and work program.  The Committee submitted to the WIPO General Assembly the results of its work on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.

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

Like-Minded Countries Roundtable

On June 6 and 7, 2017, the Like-Minded Group of countries organized a preparatory and informal roundtable to which delegations from all regions were invited.

Voluntary Fund

The WIPO Secretariat and the IGC Chair reminded the IGC that the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities is in 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, June 11, 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 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 PanelPDF, IGC mandate 2016-2017, entitled “Outstanding/Pending Issues in the IGC Draft Articles on the Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions: Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Perspectives”, was held on June 12, 2017.  The keynote speaker was Mr. S. James Anaya, Dean and Thomson Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School, United States of America.

The other two panelists were Ms. Aroha Te Pareake Mead, Member, Ngati Awa and Ngati Porou Tribes, New Zealand;  and Ms. Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, Member,
Kankana-ey Igorot People of Mountain Province, Philippines;  Legal Coordinator, Tebtebba – Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education, Philippines.

New WIPO publications

WIPO has unveiled two new public resources on intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, including the Organization’s first-ever practical guide specifically for Indigenous peoples and local communities, entitled “Protect and Promote Your Culture: A Practical Guide to Intellectual Property for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities”.

The second publication, entitled “Key Questions on Patent Disclosure Requirements for Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge,” is an updated and improved version of a study from 2004.

Indigenous Scholarship

On Monday 12 June, WIPO Assistant Director General Minelik Getahun announced that the Organization will establish two new scholarships for Indigenous persons to attend the WIPO Academy’s Summer School program in Geneva or in one of the other locations in 2018 and 2019.  He made this announcement on the occasion of a meeting between the WIPO Secretariat and a high-level delegation of Indigenous representatives. The Indigenous delegation comprised:

  • James Anaya (Apache and Purepecha, United States of America and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples);
  • Anne Nourgam (Sami, Finland and Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues);
  • Aroha Mead (Maori, New Zealand);
  • Hamadi Ag Mohamed Abba (Touareg, Mali);
  • Jennifer Tauli Corpuz (Kankana-ey Igorot People, Philippines); and
  • Q”apaj Conde (aymar arxatiri, Plurinational State of Bolivia).


Events organized on the sidelines of IGC 34 included:

  • a side event entitled “Capacity-building on Intellectual Property and Access and Benefit-Sharing”, where the participants shared the objectives, design and lessons learned from multi-stakeholder practical workshops on the interface between intellectual property and access and benefit-sharing, co‑organized by the WIPO Secretariat and the ABS Capacity Development Initiative;
  • a side event organized by the Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, entitled “Showcasing Finnish Sámi Traditional Cultural Expressions in a Broader Context of Contemporary Expressions of Creativity”;
  • a side event organized by the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the WIPO IGC, entitled “The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at its 10th Anniversary: Realizing Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights to Traditional Cultural Expressions”;
  • a side event organized by the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, entitled “New Life for Russian Traditions”; and
  • a side event organized by the Centre for International Governance Innovation, entitled “Charting the Future: Global Knowledge Assets and the IGC”.

Final report

The initial draft report of IGC 34 will be prepared and circulated by August 31, 2017.


The Committee was attended by participants from 87 countries and 44 observers.

IGC 34 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.

Five organizations were accredited as new observers at the session.

WIPO General Assembly

The WIPO General Assembly will take place in October 2017, and will address inter alia the renewal of the mandate of the IGC.

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.