WIPO TK Committee Agrees To Continue Work, But Real Outcome Depends On October Assembly 19/06/2017 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)A recommendation to continue the work of the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on the protection of traditional knowledge, genetic resources and folklore is on its way to the organisation’s annual General Assembly in October. However, the details of the mandate are left for the General Assembly to discuss, such as the mandate and the work programme of the committee for the next two years. Indigenous Peoples representative at the IGC The 34th session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), meeting from 11-16 June, had a double task. The first was to advance work on draft articles of an instrument protecting traditional cultural expressions (TCEs, or folklore). The second was to take stock of progress made over the last two years in the IGC, and to issue recommendations to the annual Assembly in October about renewing the two-year mandate. A set of draft decisions [pdf] was agreed on 16 June. A new draft text on TCEs, incorporating a clear display of member states’ positions, was released on 15 June (IPW, WIPO, 18 June 2017). As things stand, three main camps can be characterised: proponents of binding legal instrument(s) (treaties), such as the African Group and the Asia and Pacific Group; opponents of such instruments, such as the European Union and the United States; and countries seemingly open to considering binding instrument(s), such as Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. On the renewal of the mandate, member states worked in informal closed meetings over the week and could not find agreement on several elements of the mandate. Everybody agrees, the committee Chair Ian Goss said on 16 June, on the importance of the subject and the need to continue discussions. That is reflected in the decisions agreed upon at the end of the meeting: noting the progress made and requesting the continuation of work. However, all elements that were controversial this week are still hanging, such as whether or not a high-level negotiating meeting (diplomatic conference) should be convened in the next biennium (2018/2019). Diplomatic Conference, Expert Working Group? In the corridors of WIPO, sources told Intellectual Property Watch that some developing countries were in favour of separating the three subjects of the IGC, by merging the traditional knowledge (TK) and TCEs texts, with particular provisions for TCEs, and proceeding with a diplomatic conference for genetic resources. Those countries find the genetic resources text ready to face a diplomatic conference. The contrary argument pushed by countries including the EU and the US is that all three strands should go forward together, according to sources. This keeping together of all three subjects of the IGC can be seen as a step to delay progress, according to those sources. Members have struggled with conceptual and definition issues on TK and TCEs. Several sources told Intellectual Property Watch that the genetic resources text, although maybe more advanced because the nature of its subject is less controversial, still needs time to be worked out. This is because of the mandatory disclosure requirement of the source of genetic material. A number of countries in the world have incorporated mandatory disclosure into their legislation in different ways, according to a source. Switzerland is one of those countries. Separately. the EU agreed on disclosure requirement in past sessions of the IGC. The African Group proposed that an expert intersessional working group be established to focus on narrowing gaps in the current draft texts. The African proposal also suggested the holding of a diplomatic conference in the first quarter of 2019 to conclude and adopt a legally binding instrument for GRs. None of those suggestions could get a consensual approval during informal discussions, as reported by sources. According to IGC Vice-Chair Jukka Liedes of Finland, who was tasked to chair the informal sessions on stock-taking and mandate, delegations are not going empty-handed to the General Assembly as consensus was reached on some elements, such as that the mandate should be renewed for two years. Closing statements were a repeat of positions, and a call for a “mutually acceptable” outcome of negotiations in the General Assembly on the mandate and work programme. 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 Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."WIPO TK Committee Agrees To Continue Work, But Real Outcome Depends On October Assembly" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.