October 2013


Implementing Declaration on Indigenous Rights Will Be Difficult or Impossible Without Greater Awareness of Human Rights Values, Third Committee Told
UN release, 21 October 2013

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK: Addressing UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Third Committee discussions of social, humanitarian and cultural issues on 21 October 2013, James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, presented his final report and briefed Member States on activities undertaken during his time of service. He said he gave particular emphasis to building constructive dialogue between indigenous peoples and others, particularly on human rights issues and extractive industries operating in or near indigenous peoples’ territories. He expressed concern that UNDRIP is often seen as being non-binding and aspirational in nature, saying that “States should aspire to implement it.” UN representatives and several delegates stressed that greater awareness of human rights should underpin a renewed push for implementation. A message from Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Coordinator of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, called for greater attention to the situation of indigenous women, who face “triple discrimination” on the basis of their indigenous identity, gender and economic status.

Among the report’s recommendations, it is stated that there is an urgent need for greater awareness about the human rights values and concerns represented by UNDRIP and about the standards that are articulated in the Declaration to address those concerns; and that greater efforts must be put in place to achieve such broad awareness among governmental and other influential actors, the international system, and the general public. Read the release … Download the UN Special Rapporteur’s report (A/68/317)[pdf] …

More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous peoples’ rights
OHCHR press release, 29 October 2013

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK: “Indigenous peoples are among the groups most severely affected by the extractive, agro-industrial and energy sectors,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. Sulyandziga presented the UN Working Group’s first thematic report, which explores the challenges faced in addressing the adverse effects of business activities on indigenous peoples’ rights, to the UN General Assembly in New York. “Negative effects range from indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their chosen traditional way of life, with their distinct cultural identity, to discrimination in employment and in accessing goods and services,” the expert noted. “There are challenges involving land use and ownership, and also displacement through forced or economic resettlement. Such disruption often leads to serious abuses of civil and political rights, with human rights defenders in particular put at risk,” he said. “Indigenous peoples are also often excluded from agreements and decision-making processes that irrevocably affect their lives.” The Working Group’s report highlights how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can clarify the roles and responsibilities of States, business enterprises and indigenous peoples in addressing these problems. Read the press release … Download the Working Group’s report on human rights and transnational corporations and other business entities (doc A/68/279) [pdf] … Download the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights [pdf] …

Farmers’ Rights at Heart of Plant Breeding IP Debate; UPOV Ponders New Members, Communication Strategy
IP Watch, 29 October 2013

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) held a number of meetings last week, from 21-25 October, leading to the meeting of its Council, which is the UPOV governing body. Meetings included UPOV’s Administrative and Legal Committee, and its Consultative committee, both preparatory committees to the Council. New member requests were examined while civil society warned against a draft African legal framework on plant variety protection that they said could impact the dominant subsistence farming systems in some African states. In addition, during the week, a seminar was organised on “essentially derived” varieties (EDVs) of plants, showing the complexity of the definition of those varieties while civil society warned against rules that could endangers small farmers. The seminar explored the technical and legal aspects, while possible impacts on breeding and agriculture were presented by a number of different stakeholders including breeders’ association representatives, lawyers and civil society. Normita Gumasing Ignacio, executive director of South East Asia Regional Initiatives of Community Empowerment (SEARICE), said the dynamic informal seed system is threatened by the concept of EDVs. It limits the potential of farmers to adapt to changing environments, and threatens food security, she said, adding that preventing farmers to “freely generate EDVs from a protected variety is inequitable and unwise.” Ignacio also pointed out that “all of formal breeders’ breeding materials are derived to some extent from a farmers’ variety.” Read the article … Visit the seminar’s webpage, including links to documents and presentations …

Intellectual Property, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions/Folklore: A Guide for Countries in Transition
WIPO, 2013

This Guide intends to provide information for policy-makers, heads of intellectual property offices, and other decision-makers in countries in transition on issues they need to consider before putting a legal framework on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions in place, if they decide to do so. It aims to raise awareness of existing methods for the legal protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as to improve understanding of the interrelations, at international, regional and national levels, between the intellectual property system, on the one hand, and traditional knowledge/traditional cultural expressions and their implications for economic, social, cultural and technical development, on the other. Read the Guide …

Short Film on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge
Arts Law Center of Australia, 2013

Produced with support from the WIPO Secretariat and the Government of Australia, this short video includes information on WIPO and the protection of traditional knowledge. The video covers various issues of interest for indigenous artists in Australia in relation to intellectual property. Access the video …

Communities can monitor forests ‘as well as experts’
BBC News, 29 October 2013

LONDON, UK: Research published in Ecology and Society shows that local communities are able to monitor forest biomass up to the highest standards of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The study, coordinated by the World Agroforestry Centre, identified 289 plots in nine forest types located in four countries in South-East Asia and compared the carbon stock estimates collected by local communities with the results gathered by professional foresters. The results were the same both in terms of accuracy and precision. The research team hopes its findings will show that forest communities are an under-used resource when it comes to the monitoring aspects of REDD projects. Read the article … Download the article on “Community Monitoring for REDD+: international policies and field realities” [pdf] …

Aboriginal Hunting Practice Increases Animal Populations
Science Daily, 25 October 2013

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA: In Australia’s Western Desert, Aboriginal hunters use a unique method that actually increases populations of the animals they hunt, according to a study co-authored by Stanford Woods Institute-affiliated researchers Rebecca and Doug Bird. The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, offers new insights into maintaining animal communities through ecosystem engineering and co-evolution of animals and humans. It finds that populations of monitor lizards nearly double in areas where they are heavily hunted. The hunting method – using fire to clear patches of land to improve the search for game – also creates a mosaic of regrowth that enhances habitat. Where there are no hunters, lightning fires spread over vast distances, landscapes are more homogenous and monitor lizards are more rare. Read the article …

Seventeenth meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice
14-18 October 2013 (Montreal, Canada)

Held immediately following the eighth meeting of the CBD Working Group on Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge), the seventeenth meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 17) convened from 14-18 October 2013 in Montreal, Canada. Featuring a new format aiming to enhance its scientific and technical focus, including panel presentations, delivery of statements and the convening of two Friends of the Chair drafting groups, SBSTTA 17 focused on the scientific and technical needs related to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi targets, and its contribution to the intersessional process of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

In the recommendation on scientific and technical needs related to the implementation of the Strategic Plan, SBSTTA identifies a number of key scientific and technical needs, including on better ways to draw on social sciences; better ways to include relevant traditional knowledge (TK) systems; and strengthening non-monetary valuation tools and methodologies for the maintenance of ecosystem functions. Specifically on TK, SBSTTA identified the need for better ways to include relevant indigenous and traditional knowledge systems and the collective actions of indigenous and local communities to complement scientific knowledge in support of the effective implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices. Furthermore, in the recommendation on IPBES, SBSTTA emphasized the role of TK systems and of intercultural and scientific dialogues; and the inclusion of a broad range of approaches, visions and models related to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use at multiple scales in IPBES work to complement information, tools and methodologies for policy making.

Visit the meeting’s webpage, including links to documents … View the meeting’s in-session documents … Read the IISD Reporting Services daily and summary reports …

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