Protection of Bio-Cultural Property in the Cradle of Traditional Knowledge
19 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 14, 2010
Human communities have always generated, refined and passed on knowledge from generation to generation. Such “traditional” knowledge” is often an important part of their cultural identities. Traditional knowledge encompasses the beliefs, knowledge, practices, innovations, arts, spirituality, and other forms of cultural experience and expression that belong to indigenous communities worldwide. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, intellectual property has been considered a fundamental human right of all people. Only recently, however, has the need to protect, preserve and provide for the fair use of indigenous intellectual property ‘traditional knowledge’ entered the domestic and international debate on intellectual property rights.
Non-indigenous groups, such as corporations, have been exploiting the traditional knowledge that has been developed by indigenous beings over centuries. However, the international community has sought to recognize and protect such traditional knowledge. Many developing countries, holders of traditional knowledge, and campaigning organizations are pressing in a multitude of fora for traditional knowledge to be better protected. Such pressure has led, for example, to the creation of an Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore in WIPO. Such knowledge and folklore is also being discussed within the framework of the CBD and in other international organizations such as UNCTAD, WHO, FAO and UNESCO. In addition, the Doha WTO Ministerial Declaration highlighted the need for further work in the TRIPS Council on protecting traditional knowledge.
Keywords: Biocultural property, WIPO, Traditional knowledge, CBD, WTO
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