April 2011

E-consultation: Zero Draft of the Voluntary Guidelines
FAO, 18 April 2011

ROME, ITALY: The zero draft of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and Other Natural Resources is open for comments through an e-consultation hosted by FAO from 18 April to 16 May 2011. The zero draft, which is available in all six FAO official languages, has drawn on multi-stakeholder regional and thematic consultations that have taken place around the world in 2009 and 2010. This e-consultation is another opportunity for all interested organizations and individuals to contribute to the drafting of the guidelines. Comments may be sent directly from the website or via email to VG-tenure@fao.org. Comments from the e-consultation will be considered in the first draft of the voluntary guidelines which will be submitted to the open-ended working group of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). The work will peak in the CFS led plenary negotiations from 25-28 July 2011. Final text of the voluntary guidelines will be submitted for consideration of the 37th session of the CFS in October 2011.

Members and partners of the International Land Coalition (ILC) are invited to submit comments to the ILC Secretariat by 5 May 2011, in order to facilitate a coordinated input to the zero draft. Visit the e-consultation website … Download the zero draft (in English) [pdf] … Read the ILC release …

Issues related to the extension of the protection of geographical indications provided for in Article 23 of the TRIPS Agreement to products other than wines and spirits and those related to the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity
Report by the WTO Director-General (WT/GC/W/633, TN/C/W/61), 21 April 2011

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: This report by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, presented to the WTO Trade Negotiations Committee and the General Council, summarizes the informal consultative process regarding the extension of the protection of geographical indications and issues related to the relationship between TRIPS and the CBD. On the latter issue, it is noted that discussions built on the common ground reported in 2008 – broad support for the general principles of prior informed consent and equitable sharing of benefits that are enshrined in the CBD; and agreement on the need to avoid erroneous patents, secure compliance with national benefit-sharing regimes, and ensure patent offices have available the information needed to make proper decisions on patent grants for inventions linked to genetic resources and traditional knowledge (TK).  Members voiced support for the CBD objectives, but remained divided as to the best means to fulfil them within the TRIPS framework. The structured discussions reviewed the practical implications and comparative merits of current proposals – a disclosure requirement, a database system, and national-based approaches to enforcing prior informed consent and equitable benefit sharing – considering how each of these options could effectively help achieve the agreed objectives, while not creating undue burdens. Members considered how databases and disclosure requirements would operate in practice to reduce the risk of patents being incorrectly granted over genetic resources and associated TK. The exchanges covered a number of general themes grouped into four clusters: cluster 1 on the legal character of misappropriation; cluster 2 on costs and benefits of measures, other than the disclosure requirement, to address misappropriation and benefit sharing; cluster 3 on the legal character and enforcement possibilities of national-based approaches, including a contract-based system, especially covering multiple jurisdictions; and cluster 4 on administrative costs and burdens, and the legal certainty and predictability, of a mandatory disclosure requirement within the patent system. Members have consistently voiced support for the principles and objectives of the CBD, and have agreed on the need to take steps to avoid erroneous patents, including through the use of databases, as appropriate, to avoid patents being granted on existing TK or genetic resources subject-matter. However, Members continue to differ on whether the formulation and application of a specific, tailored disclosure mechanism relating in particular to genetic resources and associated TK would be useful and effective in ensuring that the patent system promoted CBDobjectives, or whether other mechanisms should be preferred. Download the report [doc] … Read an IP Watch article on recent WTO discussions, 21 April 2011 …

Plant Breeder’s Rights – A blessing or a curse?
IP Watch, 20 April 2011

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: In this interview, Niels Louwaars of the Centre for Genetic Resources, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, discusses the importance of plant breeder’s rights, and their treatment under the FAO, the TRIPS Agreement, UPOV and in Europe. He makes the case for a carefully balanced protection for plant breeders and changes to patents in agriculture, in order to ensure a competitive, diversified supply of plant varieties and seeds. Noting that developing countries may have sub-sectors that need maximum protection, such as export horticulture, while at the same time the informal exchange of seeds and new varieties of basic food crops is essential to improve the livelihood of farmers that are not connected to the formal seed systems, he suggests, among others, that a plant breeder’s rights system should respond to these needs and thus recognize the farmers’ rights of such smallholders. Read the interview …

Temporary vacancy announcement: Social Affairs Officer
UN DESA, April 2011

The Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is advertising this temporary position at P-3 level, with estimated start date 15 May 2011 and duration until 31 July 2011, with possibility of extension. The successful candidate will be responsible for, among others: assisting in research and analysis in the field of indigenous issues and contributing to the preparation of various documents; liaising with officials from governments, civil society and UN system on selected social policy issues related to the implementation of the Forum recommendations; assisting in the planning, organizing and servicing of meetings; providing support to communications and production of public information material; and contributing to technical cooperation activities. The deadline for submission of applications is 3 May 2011. Download the vacancy announcement [pdf] …

United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations – Grant cycles 2011-2012
April 2011

In its resolution 65/198 of 21 December 2010, the UN General Assembly decided to expand the mandate of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations to facilitate the participation of indigenous representatives in sessions of the Human Rights Council and of human rights treaty bodies, in addition to the sessions of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Board of Trustees of the Fund has approved three grant application cycles.

  • The deadline for submission of applications to attend the 18th session of the Human Rights Council and all sessions of the treaty bodies taking place between September and December 2011 is 1 June 2011.
  • The deadline for submission of applications to attend the 19th session of the Human Rights Council and all sessions of the treaty bodies taking place between January and March 2012 is 15 October 2011.
  • The deadline for submission of applications to attend the 11th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the 5th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and all treaty bodies taking place between April and August 2012 is 1 November 2011.

Read additional information on the grant cycles 2011-2012 … Read the criteria for selection … Relevant application forms …

Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions – Fourth Ordinary Session
29 November – 3 December 2010 (Paris, France)

UNESCO has circulated the detailed draft summary record of the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Participants may submit comments to convention2005@unesco.org before 5 September 2011. Download the draft summary record [pdf] …

India and Japan Sign TKDL Access Agreement
Press Information Bureau (Government of India), 20 April 2011

NEW DELHI, INDIA: India’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Japan Patent Office signed the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library Access Agreement, to help prevent misappropriation of India’s traditional knowledge in Japan. Similar agreements have been concluded with the US Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office. The TKDL Access Agreement has in-built safeguards on non-disclosure to protect India’s interest against any possible misuse. Under the agreement, patent examiners can utilize TKDL for examination purposes only and cannot reveal the content to any third party unless it is necessary for citation purpose. Read the release …

Approval for signing of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing
Press Information Bureau (Government of India), 20 April 2011

NEW DELHI, INDIA: The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of the CBD Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing. It is expected that the ABS Protocol, which is a key missing pillar of the CBD, would address the concern of misappropriation or biopiracy of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. Read the release …

AFN National Chief and Ontario Regional Chief Attend Launch of Indigenous Learning Program Promoting Understanding and Partnerships with First Nations
First Perspective, 20 April 2011

OTTAWA, CANADA: An indigenous learning program designed jointly by Alderville First Nation and Lakefield College School aims to increase understanding of First Nation traditions, cultures and histories. The program includes learning from elders, from songs and artists, and will help strengthen relationships between First Nation and non-First Nation students. “This community-based initiative is an inspiring example of action on the ground that can act as a model for other education and learning partnerships between indigenous peoples and other Canadians,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. Read the release …

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