Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore: 25th session
15-24 July 2013 (Geneva, Switzerland)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are currently meeting in order to advance 13-year-old negotiations on the protection of traditional cultural expressions to a point where they can enter final high-level treaty negotiations. The session will also include a stocktaking exercise, which does not intend to reopen the draft texts on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, but go through them to consider whether they are ready for a diplomatic conference. The WIPO IGC meeting was preceded by a “retreat” involving member states, held from 5-7 July 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand.

IGC Chair Wayne McCook (Jamaica) has circulated an “informal issues paper,” dated 21 June, which outlined where talks stand. He cited various existing instruments and said that they provide “pockets of protection” but that there is “no comprehensive international legal protection system for TCEs.” The paper also highlighted areas still lacking consensus in the various articles of the draft text. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry opened the meeting by encouraging delegates to carry forward the spirit of Marrakesh, Morocco last month when they successfully completed a treaty on copyright exceptions for the visually impaired. “This is an exceptionally important meeting that is taking place now,” Gurry said, encouraging them to “find the means to converge so they can go forward with a good recommendation to the General Assembly,” to be held in September 2013. When the first revision of the text on traditional cultural resources was released on 17 July, the EU, Japan and the US rejected several of the changes proposed by the facilitators and were accused of not engaging in good faith to move negotiations along.

In the meantime, while the negotiations concern issues critical to indigenous peoples, the voluntary fund for indigenous participation in place since 2005 is continually on the verge of running out of funds and is not at zero. For this week’s meeting, Australia and New Zealand came to rescue at the last minute so that four representatives of indigenous peoples (out of a much longer list) could attend the negotiation.

Visit the meeting’s webpage, including link to webcasting …
Read the IP Watch article of 15 July “WIPO Members Back in Negotiations on Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions” …
Read the IP Watch article of 15 July “WIPO Scrounges for Funds for Indigenous Participants in Key Treaty Negotiations” …
Read the IP Watch article of 18 July “WIPO Folklore Talks Stalling; Work Continues on New Draft Text” …

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