Traditional Knowledge at the International Level: Current Approaches and Proposals for a Bigger Picture that Include Cultural Diversity
Christoph B. Graber
University of Luzern Law School
Martin A. Girsberger
Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE)
RECHT DES LÄNDLICHEN RAUMS. FESTGABE DER UNIVERSITÄT LUZERN FÜR PAUL RICHLI ZUM 60. GEBURTSTAG, pp. 243-282, Hansjörg Seiler and Jörg Schmid, eds., Zurich: Schulthess, 2006
In recent times, there has been rising debate in international fora over the protection of Traditional Knowledge, particularly in WIPO, UNESCO, the WTO and the CBD. However, as a consequence of the holistic nature of traditional knowledge, the discussion requires broad analysis, which is often lacking in the narrow competencies of an individual forum. This, in concert with the diverging perspectives of different interest groups, has resulted in a fragmentation of approaches among various international fora and a failure to agree on definitions of core terms, including "traditional knowledge" itself. This paper discusses the current international standing of traditional knowledge among the different fora, issues that have yet to be resolved and whether cultural diversity should also be a discussion point. It concludes that the next step must be to clarify the basic issues involved and to acknowledge the holistic nature of traditional knowledge, thus importing cultural diversity as a relevant concern. Moreover, it is necessary that the different fora consider the issues in a more cooperative manner to facilitate the creation of a comprehensive and coherent mechanism that meets the needs and interests of indigenous and local communities.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, WIPO, UNESCO, WTO, CBD, fragmentation of international law, cultural diversity
JEL Classification: K11, K33, K39Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 15, 2010 ; Last revised: May 19, 2010
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