WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore: 19th session
18-22 July 2011 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The WIPO IGC agreed to recommend that the WIPO General Assembly renew its mandate for the 2012-2013 biennium, a decision which is expected to be endorsed by the 2011 session of the WIPO General Assembly taking place from 26 September to 5 October 2011. Recognizing the progress made by the IGC during its work in 2010 and 2011, the proposed new mandate calls for its text-based negotiations to be expedited with the objective of reaching agreement on a text(s) of an international legal instrument(s) which will ensure the effective protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. For the 2012/2013 biennium, the IGC will follow a clearly defined work programme, and meet three times before the 2012 WIPO General Assembly. The first IGC session under the new mandate is expected to take place in February 2012 and address genetic resources. The subsequent two are tentatively expected to take place in April 2012 to address traditional knowledge, and July 2012 to address traditional cultural expressions. The IGC is requested to submit to the 2012 General Assembly the text(s) of an international legal instrument(s), and the General Assembly “will take stock of and consider the text(s), progress made and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference.”

Indigenous representatives delivered a joint statement identifying their substantive expectations and calling for their more effective participation in all negotiations and decision-making processes. In this respect, the IGC recommended that the General Assembly, “with a view to enhancing the positive contribution of observers, [invite] the Committee to review its procedures in this regard.” To facilitate this review, the secretariat would be requested to prepare a study outlining current practices and potential options.

According to ICTSD, a hotly debated issue that surfaced once again was the nature of the future instrument(s). Whether the instrument(s) under discussion need to be legally binding treaties or could take the form of declarations has not yet been decided. A large number of developing countries have supported a legally binding treaty in the past, while some developed countries have also shown readiness to adopt one or more treaties. The US, however, has been less supportive, suggesting the matter be decided at a later stage. Discussion on the three draft texts on traditional cultural expressions, traditional knowledge and genetic resources circulated by the group of Like-Minded Developing Countries was postponed to the next session. The proposal on genetic resources focuses strongly on a mandatory disclosure requirement in IP applications, and aims at establishing a clear link between the future instrument and the CBD and its Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing. Read the session’s decisions … Read the update by the WIPO Secretariat … Download the information document containing recommendations of the Advisory Board of the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities, including list of applicants recommended for funding [pdf] … Read the ICTSD article on the session …