Summary of IGC 35

March 26, 2018

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a week-long session on March 23, 2018. This was the first session under the new mandate for 2018-2019  and it addressed genetic resources.

At the opening of the session, the IGC re-elected Mr. Ian Goss of Australia as its Chair for the 2018-1019 biennium.  Mr. Jukka Liedes of Finland was re-elected and Mr. Faizal Chery Sidharta of Indonesia was elected as Vice-Chairs of the IGC for the same period.

Plenary, informals and contact groups on Agenda Item 7 (“Genetic Resources”)

On Agenda Item 7, the plenary began with discussion on key issues relating to intellectual property and genetic resources, such as objectives, subject matter, disclosure requirements (including trigger, content of disclosure, exceptions and limitations, and sanctions) and defensive measures.  

Informals were convened on Thursday to further discuss disclosure requirements.  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.

Three ad hoc contact groups were established to tackle specific issues on Thursday.  Each group comprised around 10 experts, including an indigenous expert.  The contact groups reported back to the plenary on their discussions and suggestions.  

Upon the request of the Chair, Ms. Margo Bagley (Mozambique) made a presentation introducing WIPO/GRTKF/IC/35/4, and the Secretariat introduced WIPO resources on intellectual property and genetic resources.

The plenary requested Mr. Paul Kuruk (Ghana) to act as a “Facilitator” and agreed to Ms. Margo Bagley (Mozambique) acting as a “Friend of the Chair”.  On March 20, 2018, the Facilitator and the Friend of the Chair presented, as their “work-in-progress”, a note on preamble and objective, 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/35/4 (Consolidated Document Relating to Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources).  

Based on the further discussions, the Facilitator and the Friend of the Chair then presented to the plenary a Rev. 1 document on March 21, 2018, and a Rev. 2 document on March 23, 2018.  The Plenary agreed that the “Consolidated Document Relating to Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources Rev. 2”, as at the close of the session on March 23, 2018, be transmitted to the Thirty-Sixth Session of the IGC, in accordance with the IGC’s mandate for 2018-2019 and the work program for 2018. 

Discussion on Agenda Item 8 (“Establishment of an Ad Hoc Expert Group(s)”)

The mandate of the IGC for the biennium 2018/2019 provides that the IGC “may establish ad hoc expert group(s) to address a specific legal, policy or technical issue”, and “the results of the work of such group(s) will be submitted to the IGC for consideration”.  The mandate also notes that the “expert group(s) will have a balanced regional representation and use an efficient working methodology”, and “work during the weeks of the sessions of the IGC”. 

With this background, and at their request, the Chair put forward a proposal for member states’ consideration on Thursday.  After an informal consultation and the discussion at the plenary, the Plenary agreed that an ad hoc expert group on genetic resources be organized on June 24, 2018, prior to the Thirty-Sixth Session of the IGC.

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

Voluntary fund

The IGC Chair and the Secretariat reminded the IGC that the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities is in dire need of new contributions. 

Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ participation

WIPO 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, March 18, 2018, 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 peoples and local communities at the session, provided by the Documentation Centre for Indigenous Peoples (Docip).

Indigenous panel

An indigenous panel, which addressed “Proposed Patent Disclosure Requirements Related to Genetic Resources – Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Perspectives”, was held on Monday morning.  The speakers were:

  • Ndiaga Sall, Head of Department at SEPCOM (Knowledge and Community Practices in Health), Head of Enda Health, Senegal
  • Neva Collings, Ph.D. candidate, University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law, Australia
  • Q”apaj Conde Choque, Aymar lawyer, Centro de Estudios Multidisplinarios – Aymara, Plurinational State of Bolivia.

New WIPO resources

WIPO unveiled two new public resources on intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions:


The initial draft report of IGC 35 will be prepared and circulated by May 18, 2018.


IGC 35 was attended by participants from 90 countries and 33 observers.

Video summary

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