This week in review … Consultations to continue on work programme of WIPO Committee on TK, indigenous peoples’ effective participation of vital interest

28 10 2008

IGC Consultations to Continue on Future Work Program

WIPO press release, 21 October 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Francis Gurry, and the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) Ambassador Rigoberto Gauto Vielman of Paraguay said they would pursue efforts in the coming weeks to bridge differences among member states on the way to move international negotiations forward. The IGC wrapped up its 13th meeting late in the evening of 17 October 2008 after attempts to hammer out compromise texts on the future work programme faltered. Despite intense negotiations, delegations were not able to agree on the working procedures required to deliver the concrete outcomes that many have called for from this Committee. The IGC’s mandate calls upon it to accelerate its work, and expectations remain strong that the Committee should produce a significant outcome by the time it is required to report back to the WIPO General Assembly in September 2009. The Chairman of the IGC said that in spite of differences on how to advance its work, last week’s session saw increasing acceptance of the need for a process that would move forward decisively from exchanges of views and experiences to a focused, negotiation process.  The Chairman indicated that he would pursue informal consultations with member states and observers, including representatives of indigenous and local communities taking part in the Committee’s work, in the period leading up to the next IGC session. The programme and budget adopted by WIPO member states foresees two full IGC sessions in 2009.

Effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities remains of vital interest both in relation to the procedural and the substantive legal aspects of the Committee’s work. The Committee continued to build mechanisms that are exceptional for an intergovernmental process to ensure indigenous peoples and local communities have an effective voice. An Indigenous Caucus and a capacity building workshop for Indigenous delegations were convened prior to the Committee session, and throughout the session, Indigenous delegations were provided with interpretation services and other logistical support, funded by WIPO with the logistical support of DoCIP (the Indigenous Peoples’ Centre for Documentation, Research and Information).

The opening Committee session featured a panel discussion of indigenous representatives, chaired by Albert Deterville of the Indigenous People (Bethechilokono) of Saint Lucia Governing Council. The Committee accredited twelve additional observers, bringing to well over 200 the total number of observers specially accredited to the IGC, the majority representing indigenous peoples and local communities. The WIPO Voluntary Fund, established to support the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the Committee’s work, supported an increasing number of community representatives and saw a sharp rise in applications for future support. In spite of these mechanisms, indigenous representatives voiced concerns about the informal consultations between member states aimed at bridging differences between delegations over future work, and the closing session saw a strong statement from the Indigenous Caucus calling for a central role in such consultations in the future. Read the press release …



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