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    WIPO Folklore Committee Stuck In Starting Blocks; Indigenous Peoples Wave UN Declaration

    Published on 9 July 2012 @ 11:56 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    On opening day of a weeklong meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on the protection of folklore, what was characterised as a procedural matter by the chair kept delegates in informal consultations most of the day without reaching a compromise on the agenda. And at the outset, a panel of Indigenous Peoples reminded delegates of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and called for considerations of the Declaration during this week’s negotiations.

    The 22nd session of the WIPO Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) is taking place from 9-13 June.

    By late afternoon, IGC Chair Amb. Wayne McCook of Jamaica had to admit defeat on reaching consensus on the agenda. At the root of discontent is an agenda item (9) on the future work of the IGC put forward some days ago by the Group B developed countries.

    Developing countries said, as in the previous session, that the discussion on future work of the committee was not in the mandate of the IGC and remained the prerogative of the WIPO General Assembly.

    The chair said numerous different wordings were worked on in the course of the day without reaching a satisfactory formula for all countries. Options for the wording of item 9 of the agenda included: “exchange of views on further work of the Committee,” or “exchange of views on future work of the Committee,” or “exchange of views on further matters concerning the IGC.”

    Egypt, on behalf of the African Group, said the group could not adopt the agenda with item 9 and proposed the deletion of this item. The United States said it supported Group B’s request of this agenda item and opposed its suppression. Brazil, on behalf of the Development Agenda Group, said they “did not see the need for this new agenda item.”

    McCook requested the advice of WIPO Legal Counsel Edward Kwakwa, who said that if the proposal for deletion was supported by another delegation, a vote could be undertaken by show of hands. South Africa seconded the proposal.

    Considering the late hour with only minutes to go before the end of the session, and a number of procedural matters to consider for a vote, the chair decided that the plenary would reconvene in the morning to examine the situation again. He expressed disappointment and said the committee “was embarking in this third IGC on the wrong footing.” He added that he expected “that the cool of the night may enable the engines to return to firing on all cylinders.”

    WIPO DG Invokes Spirit of Beijing

    At the start of the day, in his opening remarks, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry acknowledged a “full room” as indicating the importance of the subject matter to be discussed this week. He reminded the delegates of the recent adoption by WIPO members of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances [pdf], and the “extremely constructive atmosphere” that prevailed during the Beijing discussions.

    All delegations in Beijing, in their closing statements, remarked on the importance of the spirit being observed during negotiations and the importance of carrying it throughout the WIPO work programme, Gurry said. He made a plea to all delegates present “to honour that call” this week.

    Gurry also called delegations to make contributions to the voluntary fund, as the fund has only at this stage enough resources to cover one more IGC. The fund helps participants from developing countries to attend.

    Indigenous Peoples Seek Nod to UN Declaration in Draft Text

    The first half day of the IGC was devoted to the Indigenous Peoples panel, as has been the case since 2005, according to WIPO. The decision dates back to the IGC’s seventh session in 2004.

    The theme of this session’s panel was “Intellectual Property, Traditional Cultural Expressions and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Perspectives of Indigenous Peoples.”

    Valmaine Toki, vice-chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said the problem of the process of the IGC is twofold: the first is the ability of Indigenous Peoples to participate meaningfully within the process and the second is to recognise the intrinsic rights of Indigenous Peoples to their traditional knowledge (TK), genetic resources (GR) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs).

    Toki suggested two practical steps to address the process problems: establish an indigenous co-chair to the IGC, and establish a panel of indigenous experts on international human rights law to ensure the text aligns with those basic international human rights norms and principles.

    Article 31 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says Indigenous Peoples “have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.. including human and genetic resources…. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.”

    Also important, she said, is Article 18 on decision-making. It says that “Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decisionmaking institutions.”

    Toki said the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) [pdf] met in New York in May for its 11th session and formulated a number of recommendations, some of which were directly related to the discussions in the IGC.

    In particular, the UNPFII recommended a general alignment of the draft text of the IGC with the international human rights norms and principles. Another recommendation asked that “WIPO recognises and respects the applicability and the relevance of the Declaration as a significant international human rights instrument that must importantly inform the IGC process as well as the overall work of WIPO,” Toki said.

    Mattias Åhrén, head of the Saami Council Human Rights Unit and lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Tromsø in Norway, commented on the draft articles of the IGC on TCEs to be discussed this week.

    Åhrén also said that it is important to remember the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. He also stressed the need for capacity building for indigenous and local communities.

    Paul Kanyinke Sena, a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and East Africa Regional Representative, said there was a lack of participation of Africa in the IGC and called donors to increase their contribution for African indigenous communities.

    Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Traditional Cultural Expressions Talks Back On Track At WIPO | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] On the first day of the meeting, no consensus could be found on agenda item 9 on future work of the committee, as put forward by the Group B developed countries (IPW, WIPO, 9 July 2012). [...]

    2. This week in review … IP Watch reports on ongoing WIPO IGC meeting « Traditional Knowledge Bulletin says:

      [...] WIPO Folklore Committee Stuck in Starting Blocks; Indigenous Peoples Wave UN Declaration IP Watch, 9 July 2012 [...]

    3. WIPO Governments Push On New Folklore Treaty Text; Indigenous Peoples Disappointed | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] The start of the session was delayed by the inability of the WIPO delegates to agree on the agenda at the start of the week (IPW, WIPO, 9 July 2012). [...]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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