Summary of IGC 38

November 26, 2018

WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) concluded a week-long session on December 14, 2018. This was the fourth session under the new mandate for 2018-2019 and it addressed traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.

An ad hoc expert group on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions met on December 9, 2018, to address specific legal, policy or technical issues. It was co-chaired, in their personal capacities, by Ms. Marisella Ouma (Intellectual Property Consultant, Kenya) and Mr. Michael Shapiro (Senior Counsel, Office of Policy and International Affairs, United States Patent and Trademark Office), who reported to the IGC plenary as to the results of the ad hoc expert group’s work.

IGC 38 was chaired by Mr. Ian Goss of Australia, with Mr. Jukka Liedes of Finland and Mr. Faizal Chery Sidharta of Indonesia as Vice-Chairs. Participants from 82 countries and 26 observers attended the session.

Plenary, contact groups and informals on Agenda Item 8 (“Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions”)

On Agenda Item 8, the IGC requested Mr. Paul Kuruk (Ghana) and Ms. Lilyclaire Bellamy (Jamaica) to act as “Facilitators”. Following the discussions of the ad hoc expert group, and the discussions at the IGC’s plenary, in “contact groups” (each comprising around 15 experts, including an indigenous expert) and during “informals”, the Facilitators presented to the plenary two Rev. 2 documents on December 14, 2018. The Plenary agreed that “The Protection of Traditional Knowledge: Draft Articles Rev. 2” and “The Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions: Draft Articles Rev. 2” as at the close of the session on December 14, 2018, be transmitted to IGC 39, in accordance with the IGC’s mandate for 2018-2019 and the work program for 2018. The session’s work on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions was informed by an informal note circulated in advance by the IGC’s Chair, and updated draft gap analyses on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.

Previously submitted documents from some Member States were re-submitted for consideration by IGC 38.

Work on these themes will continue at the IGC’s next session, IGC 39, taking place in March 2019.

The IGC also agreed that a meeting of an ad hoc expert group on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions be organized prior to IGC 39 instead of prior to IGC 40, following the same arrangements mutatis mutandis as agreed at IGC 37 under Agenda Item 6. The meeting will therefore take place on Sunday, March 17, 2019 at WIPO Headquarters in Geneva.

The decisions and all the documents of the session 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 panel

An indigenous panel, which addressed “The Differences and/or Similarities between Intellectual Property Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions – Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Perspectives”, was held on Monday morning.

Side events

Two side events were organized on the margins of IGC 38:


The initial draft report of IGC 38 will be prepared and circulated by February 15, 2019.

Video summary

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