WIPO negotiators consolidate proposals on genetic resources into single text

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February 27, 2012 Intellectual property and genetic resources was the subject of an eight-day negotiation at WIPO which ended on February 22, 2012. In this 20th session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on

Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (the Committee), participants from 112 countries and 59 observers worked intensively and collaboratively, including over a Saturday.
The session was chaired by His Excellency Ambassador Wayne McCook from Jamaica, who, at the commencement of the session, was elected as the Chair of the Committee for the 2012-2013 biennium. Ms. Alexandra Grazioli from Switzerland was elected as Vice-Chair for the same period. The Committee decided to elect a second Vice-Chair at its next session in April 2012.
On the basis of a slew of various written proposals and of plenary discussions, the IGC prepared and agreed to transmit a single, consolidated document to the next session of the WIPO General Assembly in October 2012, in accordance with the Committee’s mandate as set by the 2011 session of the Assembly. Initial drafts of the consolidated document were prepared, during the session, by facilitators identified by the Committee, namely Mr. Ian Goss (Australia), Mr. Tom Suchanandan (South Africa), Ms. Chandni Raina and Mr. Biswagit Dhar (India).
During the session, the Delegations of Canada, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America submitted a new proposal, namely a “Joint Recommendation on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge”. This submission was noted and the Committee invited the proponents to resubmit the proposal, if they deem fit, at the next session of the Committee dealing with the theme of genetic resources.
Proponents of textual proposals (in other words, countries which had submitted written proposals on this subject, namely, the proponents of the Joint Recommendation referred to above, as well as the African Group, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland and the Group of Like-Minded Countries) assisted the facilitators in their task. The plenary then reviewed and worked on the draft on a screen.
The Committee noted a number of proposals for studies, literature reviews and meetings on intellectual property and genetic resources, and noted the Chair’s recommendation that the issue could be considered again at the next session of the Committee at which the theme of genetic resources is discussed on the basis of any written proposals that may have been tabled at that time.
On observers’ participation, the Committee examined a draft study on ways in which the participation of observers, especially representatives of indigenous and local communities, could be enhanced. This draft had been prepared by the Secretariat of WIPO at the request of the WIPO General Assembly in 2011. On the basis of the draft, the Committee, (i) noted that representatives of observers could, at the Chair’s discretion and in accordance with the Committee’s Rules of Procedure, be included in any “Friends of Chair” groups and/or act as co-chairs of working and drafting groups, (ii) supported the organization of an indigenous expert workshop preceding an upcoming session of the Committee, (iii)strongly encouraged Member States to organize regional and national consultations involving representatives of indigenous and local communities, (iv) supported the development or improvement of various awareness-raising and communications tools by the WIPO Secretariat, and (v) welcomed the continued cooperation of the WIPO Secretariat with other relevant United Nations and regional intergovernmental bodies, programs, organizations and agencies.
The Committee requested further information from the WIPO Secretariat on proposed changes to the accreditation and funding procedures for representatives of indigenous and local communities and proposed revisions to the format of Indigenous Panels which precede each session of the Committee. This additional information will be discussed at the next IGC (April 2012).
A number of indigenous representatives left the session on February 21, 2012, citing inter alia, according to a written statement issued by them, “the continued reduction of the amount and level of our participation in this process”. They reconsidered their decision after meeting informally with the Chair, and then rejoined the meeting on the following day.

The Committee also amended its Rules of Procedures to recognize existing the practice whereby Committee documents are made available in all six United Nations languages.
The Committee meets again (IGC 21) in April 2012 (April 16 to 20, 2012) to discuss the theme of traditional knowledge.
At the request of the Member States, Saturday February 18, 2012 was designated as “Cultural/Traditional Attire Day”. Participants wore cultural or traditional attire from their respective countries. The day began with an indigenous performance.
All documents for IGC 20 are available at: http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=25008
The report of IGC 20 will be tabled for adoption at IGC 22 taking place in July 2012.