WIPO Director Gurry Highlights Value Of Indigenous Knowledge 21/08/2015 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and creativity is a valuable source of inspiration for all, but is largely accessible and might benefit from being better protected, the head of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization said this month. WIPO is currently negotiating an international instrument or instruments to better protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions (folklore). WIPO Director General Francis Gurry issued a message on the International Day of the World’ s Indigenous Peoples on 10 August. The issue of negotiations is expected to be on the agenda of the upcoming (October) annual WIPO General Assembly of member states. Director General Francis Gurry (photo: WIPO). In his message, available here, Gurry highlighted the value to the world of indigenous knowledge. “The cultural heritage of Indigenous Peoples also embodies significant innovation and creativity and constitutes a valuable source of inspiration and knowledge for society at large as well as for creators and inventors, from fashion designers to the pharmaceutical industry, from musicians to farmers,” he said. “Traditional knowledge could also play an important role in addressing global challenges, from inspiring ways for peoples to live in harmony with the environment, mitigate the effects of climate change or enhance public health and food security.” But while it is valuable, its accessibility means it may be prone to misappropriation and misuse, he said, without benefit to its originators. “Intangible cultural heritage is prone to what is perceived by many as misappropriation and misuse: it is valuable and at the same time largely accessible, while it is only partly protected under the present international intellectual property system,” said Gurry. “Addressing these issues at the international level would help Indigenous Peoples to better control and draw more benefit from the utilization of their traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, should they so wish to do so.” He noted that WIPO member states “initiated negotiations in 2009 with the objective of reaching agreement on an international legal instrument or instruments which will ensure the effective protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.” These negotiations have been difficult at times due to differences among member states, as covered closely by Intellectual Property Watch. Gurry also made reference to the broader United Nations effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and come up with new goals after 2015, which will be addressed at the September UN General Assembly in New York. “WIPO is committed to setting up a balanced and effective international intellectual property system that is development-oriented, and enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all, including groups such as Indigenous Peoples,” he said. “In so doing, WIPO will continue contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as to the forthcoming post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals to be submitted for adoption by the United Nations General Assembly Summit in September 2015.” WIPO’s efforts to assist indigenous people has been oriented around explaining the intellectual property system. “WIPO’s outreach includes seminars, practical workshops, briefs and guides that explain the use of existing intellectual property tools, like copyright, trademarks and geographical indications, including for those Indigenous Peoples who would wish to use such tools for their own benefit,” Gurry said. “The traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions of Indigenous Peoples form part of their core identities and are essential to their well-being and social cohesion.” Participation of indigenous people in the closed-door negotiations at WIPO has been an issue over the years, in part due to frequent shortfalls in funding to bring participants, but also by member states’ rules on indigenous representatives voting in committee. Gurry said: “In line with Articles 18 and 31 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the role and interests of Indigenous Peoples as key stakeholders in these intergovernmental negotiations have been reflected both in the options included in the drafts texts that have been developed so far, and in the various modalities that contribute greatly to the full and direct participation of Indigenous Peoples in the WIPO negotiations.” Image Credits: WIPO Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Director Gurry Highlights Value Of Indigenous Knowledge" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.