[Ip-health] Fwd: TWN Info: WIPO - Disagreement over mandate renewal of work on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore

K.M. Gopakumar kumargopakm at gmail.com
Mon Oct 12 13:37:41 PDT 2015

*Title :* TWN Info: WIPO - Disagreement over mandate renewal of work on
genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore
*Date :* 12 October 2015


TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues (Oct15/03), Biod and TK
12 October 2015
Third World Network

*WIPO: Disagreement over mandate renewal of work on genetic resources,
traditional knowledge and folklore*

Geneva, 12 Oct (Mirza Alas and K.M. Gopakumar) – Developed countries are
reluctant to renew the mandate of the World Intellectual Property
Organization (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property
and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) for
text-based negotiations for an international legal instrument.

The 55th session of the WIPO General Assemblies is taking place from 5 to
14 October at the WIPO headquarters in Geneva. Among the decisions to be
taken is the future of the IGC.

The IGC was established in 2000 as a forum to discuss (i) access to genetic
resources and benefit sharing; (ii) protection of traditional knowledge,
whether or not associated with those resources; and (iii) the protection of
expressions of folklore.

In 2010, the WIPO General Assembly provided the mandate of IGC for a
text-based negotiation for an international legal instrument. This mandate
was extended again in 2012 and 2013. According to the 2013 General Assembly
decision, the General Assembly in 2014 was to take stock of the situation
and to decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference to conclude the
negotiations. There was no decision with regard to the IGC due to lack of
consensus on the diplomatic conference. However, the developed countries
agreed to extend the mandate for a text-based negotiation.

This year developed countries, mainly the European Union, Japan and the
United States opposed the renewal of the mandate for a text-based
negotiation. Many developing country delegates argue that non-renewal of
the mandate would erase all of the work that has been done through the

[Until 2014 the IGC had negotiated three texts viz. Genetic Resources (GR),
Traditional Knowledge (TK), and Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCE).
There are three proposals before the IGC. The 55th General Assemblies of
WIPO had received a proposal from the African Group for the conversion of
the IGC into a Standing Committee, with a mandate to hold text-based
negotiations on GR, TK and TCE. That proposal is contained in document

The Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) also submitted
a proposal directly to the facilitator of the informal consultations group,
while the Holy See, Kenya Switzerland, Mozambique, New Zealand and Norway
submitted a joint proposal (WO/GA/47/18).  All of the proposals requested
the mandate of the IGC to be renewed.

The Assembly also received a proposal from the United States (WO/GA/47/17)
to allow the mandate of the IGC to lapse without a renewal. Since the start
of the Assemblies the IGC agenda item had only been shortly taken up at the
plenary and moved quickly into informal consultations.]

On Saturday 10 October as delegates met at the plenary there was a clear
division between a big majority of developing countries requesting the
mandate of the IGC for a text-based negotiation to be renewed, and
developed countries holding on to their position that new methodologies
were necessary for the work of the IGC and continue to refuse to extend the
mandate for a text based negotiation.

Many developing countries took the floor during the plenary and asked the
Chair that since the informal discussions were not producing results, to
start the negotiation in plenary. According to developing countries the
discussions in plenary would put on record the specific opposition of
developed countries on a text-based negotiation. Developed countries
refused to discuss the renewal of IGC mandate in the plenary.  In the
absence of consensus the Chair suggested to continue the informal

At the time of writing the facilitator of the informal process Mr. Ian
Gross is carrying out bilateral consultations to bring a third draft
proposal late afternoon of 12 October. After the circulation of the draft
the facilitator is expected to meet the regional group coordinator to
hammer out consensus.

During the first week of the General Assembly the facilitator came up with
two draft proposals.

Many developing country delegates informed Third World Network (TWN) that
the second draft proposal of the facilitator contains two options for the
work program on text-based negotiations. According to the first proposal
there are 6 round of negotiations spread over 2016-17 dedicating two rounds
for GR, TK and TCE.  As per the second proposal three rounds of
negotiations are dedicated one each on GR, TK and TCE.  Both options
propose the 2017 General assembly to take stock and decide on   whether to
convene a diplomatic conference or to continue negotiations.

However, developed countries are refusing to accept these options. However,
developing country delegates informed TWN that even though the word
negotiation is mentioned in the work program, which is annexed to the
proposal, it does not contain phrases like legally binding instrument. This
would amount to rolling back of the past years’ work.

On 10 October Brazil on behalf of GRULAC, the African Group, the majority
of the Asia Pacific Group and the Like-Minded countries made a short and
powerful statement on Saturday morning for the renewal of the mandate and
saw many countries supporting their position. The United States continued
to hold its position from its submitted proposal. The European Union had
not submitted any proposals either for or against the renewal of the
mandate and in fact it was not until the discussions started on the IGC
mandate that they voiced their position not to renew the mandate of the

Below are the highlights of some of the statements.

*Brazil on behalf of GRULAC, African Group**, Like-Minded countries and the
majority of the Asia Pacific Group *thanked the facilitator Ian Goss for
having prepared a second version of a draft text for the renewal of a
mandate. Brazil stated that the protection of GRs, TK and TCEs plays a
central role in the normative agenda of WIPO and a mandate to continue
text-based negotiations on these subjects must be approved.

In this sense, the groups reaffirmed their priority of the continuation of
text-based negotiations, emphasizing that the voice of more than 2/3 of the
membership of this organization should not be ignored.

*South Africa *supported the statement made by GRULAC and stated that the
principles of the Committee have been mainstreamed since 2009 and the
explanations of why the work should be abandoned should be clear.

*Indonesia *stated that the committee has seen progress particularly on the
organizational aspects and since 2009 text-based negotiations. Indonesia
called on Member States not to move backward and undermine WIPO’s

*China *voiced its support for the joint statement and hoped that the
mandate will be renewed.

*Algeria *also expressed its support and endorsed the statements delivered
by Brazil and reminded the plenary that it is a vital matter and concerns
of over 2/3 of the organization’s membership.

*Egypt *stressed that the majority of countries have looked at renewal of
the mandate. It invited Member States to move to text-based negotiations so
the work of the last 15 years is not thrown away.

*Jamaica *emphasized that the 2014 discussions came to a hold because no
agreement could be reached on the way forward to have a diplomatic
conference or not.  Jamaica stated that there must be a clear articulation
of the reason not to renew the mandate (referring to those that did not
want renewal), to seek to articulate what was the problem of the text-base
negotiations. If we can have clear articulation then we can arrive to a
place where we can agree on the way forward. The majority wants to move
forward with this process.

Nigeria, Malawi, India, Uganda, Cameron, Paraguay, Guatemala, Trinidad and
Tobago, Cuba, Chile, Namibia and Panama also took the floor and explicitly
supported the joint statement made by Brazil. It is learned that except for
the Republic of Korea and Singapore all countries from the Asia Pacific
group supported the renewal of the IGC mandate for a text-based negotiation.

*The United States *said that the ongoing consultations seem to bring
forward flexibilities and was hopeful that consensus can be reached. It
thanked Brazil for the groups’ statement and noted their support for the
ongoing work on the issues.  The US stressed that the method of the IGC has
not been effective and noted their willingness to continue the work but a
new method is required. The current text is unworkable, the US said.

*Luxembourg *supported the US statement.

*Japan *underlined the consensus basis of the organization, adding it did
not use the argument of numbers as a way to support something because it is
not a productive discussion. Japan noted that it was important to focus on
the facilitation process to find a solution.

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