African Group Proposes Permanent Traditional Knowledge Committee At WIPO 23/09/2015 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments 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)In a couple of weeks, the World Intellectual Property Organization will hold its annual General Assembly. The African Group is asking the Assembly transform the committee devoted to finding a way to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore from misappropriation into a standing committee. This would allow the committee to avoid seeking the renewal of its existence every two years, which it faces again at this year’s Assembly. The 55th WIPO General Assembly is taking place from 5-14 October. At the last General Assembly, the WIPO member states were unable to decide on a 2015 work programme for the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). This year’s Assembly is expected to consider renewal of the mandate of the IGC, and so far, proposals range from killing the committee (United States), to continuing as it is (Switzerland, Norway and others), to making it permanent (African Group). The delegation of Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group, put forward in July a proposal [pdf] to the Assembly on the “Conversion of WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) into a Standing Committee.” The group is asking this year’s Assembly to approve this conversion. In its proposal, the African Group said “although the economic, social and cultural value of GRs, TK and TCEs [traditional cultural expressions, or folklore] is well established, the protection of traditional innovation – the oldest form of knowledge, is yet to be integrated into the international IP system.” “The failure to recognize and establish an effective international regime requiring cross-border protection of GRs, TKs and TCEs has undermined the legitimacy of the ‘formal’ IP system, negatively impacted the moral, socio-cultural and economic rights of indigenous and local communities, and enabled continuous misappropriation of GRs, TK, and TCEs,” the proposal said. The IGC has been unable to make progress on its normative agenda, and develop an international instrument protecting GRs, TK, and TCEs, said the group. The “closely timed meetings of the IGC … were presumably aimed at the goal of expeditiously concluding texts for the purpose of making a recommendation to the WIPO General Assembly. Instead, the process has facilitated a veritable number of competing visions and unwieldy working documents.” The African Group proposal seeks “to build on the accomplishments made within the IGC, and to institutionalize the notable gains made within a more conductive and sustainable working environment.” Welcome, the New SCTK Committee? The African Group is proposing that the committee’s title become the Standing Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions (SCTK). According to the proposal, the mandate of the SCTK should “focus on and expedite text-based negotiations with a view to narrowing existing gaps and reaching agreement on international legal instrument(s) that will ensure the effective protection of GRs, TK, and TCEs.” The proposal suggests that the SCTK proceed with the existing work carried out by the IGC and use all WIPO working documents, as well as other textual contributions by members. A recommendation should also be submitted to the 2017 General Assembly on the text or texts of an international legal instrument or instruments, it said. Image Credits: Flickr – Biodiversity International 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 Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."African Group Proposes Permanent Traditional Knowledge Committee At WIPO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.