Indigenous Representatives Walk out of World Intellectual Property Organization Committee
GENEVA, Switzerland -- The International Indigenous Forum, in an unprecedented collective move, decided to withdraw from the discussions of the WIPO Committee on Genetic Resources taking place from February 14-22. The move calls into question the legitimacy of the negotiations.
delegates were working on a compilation text at the twentieth session of the
Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources,
Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), an Indigenous Peoples representative,
speaking on behalf of the International Indigenous Forum, announced on 21
February the withdrawal from active participation in the IGC.
statement that the representative could not read in its entirety in plenary,
the group said that Indigenous Peoples have participated as experts in IGC
sessions, and worked in good faith. They have, according to the statement, made
efforts over the years to submit to the IGC sessions our collectively developed
and sound proposals, which have been ignored or left in brackets in negotiation
as the titleholders, proprietors, and ancestral owners of traditional knowledge
that is inalienable, nonforfeitable and inherent to the generic resources that
they have conserved and utilized in a sustainable manner within their territories,
the group feels that the discussion on intellectual property rights and genetic
resources should include Indigenous Peoples on equal terms with the States
since the work will directly impact their lives, their lands, their territories
consequence, they said they decided, unanimously, to withdraw their active
participation in the work developed by this committee until the States change
the rules of procedure to permit their full and equitable participation at all
levels of the IGC.
current rules of procedures, Indigenous Peoples have observer
status at the IGC. They can make proposals to the negotiations, but those
proposals have to be endorsed by at least one delegation to be taken into
Being Eroded Gradually, Representatives Say
interview with Intellectual
Property Watch, Indigenous Peoples representatives Debra Harry, Executive
Director of the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonalism, and Lucia Fernanda
Jófej Kaingáng, the representative of the Instituto Indigena Brasileiro para
Propriedade Intelectual (INBRAPI), said that since the beginning of the IGC,
the Indigenous Peoples’ participation has been narrowed and they have been
excluded from key bodies like the friends of the Chair. In this particular
meeting, they were not able to participate in the team of facilitators drafting
the negotiating text, they said.
Most of the
textual proposals made by the Indigenous Peoples are not currently included in
the present text, they said. The text that was actually taken into account is
put forward in a way that does not reflect their original proposal, they added.
For example, in Objective 1, paragraph 1.1.1., the current text says:
“Including the sovereign rights of [States] nations and peoples, the rights of
indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as private property rights]
in accordance with domestic legislation [in patent applications]. Additions
such as states, private property rights, and patent applications, have
transformed the original proposal.
of the Rules of Procedure Needed, Indigenous Peoples Say
to Harry and Jófej Kaingáng, the WIPO Legal Council told the Indigenous Peoples
representatives at the last session that a change in the rules of procedure to
allow full and equal participation would require a decision from the WIPO
General Assembly. At present, the rules of procedure do not anticipate having
Indigenous Peoples take an active part in the IGC, General Assembly, or a
diplomatic conference to discuss an instrument, they said. For Indigenous
Peoples, it does not make sense to participate in the IGC session but not be
able to participate in the final stages of discussion, they said. Indigenous
Peoples have been calling for a change in the rules of procedure since the 18th
session of the IGC to no avail, they added.
the WIPO Secretariat put forward a draft study on the participation of
observers in the work of the IGC, including nine proposals, none of which
recommends a change in the rules of procedure to increase the participation of
Indigenous Peoples or their level of participation, Harry said. States need to
put forward some language that is asking for a change in the rules of
Peoples participation brings legitimacy to the process and they need to have an
effective and equal participation in all levels of the process: drafting
groups, friends of the chair group, facilitators committee, Harry said.
Indigenous Peoples have collective rights under the United Nations system and states
do not take those rights into account, according to the representatives. “We
cannot participate in a process that undermines our rights,” Harry said, “If we
cannot have a fair and effective participation, we are essentially
participating in a process that will diminish our rights.”
15 percent of the national territory belongs to Indigenous Peoples, and this territory is best conserved, said Jófej Kaingáng. In Brazil,
Indigenous Peoples have exclusive rights to use natural resources inside their
land, and GRs are natural resources, she said.
in the week, a representative from Tupac Amaru said that Indigenous Peoples’
proposals are not considered even when they are supported by governments. They
consider this discriminatory, he said.
Indigenous Peoples say they have the right to sit beside states that have
colonized them, said Ronald Barnes, who represents the Indian Council of South
America (CISA). Gaps and loopholes are being created that are not going to give
us our rights, he said.
representatives during the week urged negotiators to keep to the high standards
of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other
international instruments. WIPO is a UN organization.
asserting national sovereignty over genetic resources, but state sovereignty is
not absolute,” Harry said. “If the final instrument fails to recognize
Indigenous Peoples’ rights, states may become gate keepers on our genetic
resources and traditional knowledge and this would undermine our right to
self-determination. This right is inscribed in the international legal
framework, for example in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social,
and Cultural Rights.
outcome of this process is reached without our equal participation, we would
consider the process to have no bearing on us.”
government delegates’ reaction to the withdrawal of the Indigenous Peoples
group was generally one of regret, but no suggestions for addressing the
concern, for instance by granting them equivalent status in negotiations, were
Source: Intellectual property Watch
Final Statement Of The International Indigenous Forum At WIPO - IGC 20
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANISATION
Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge
Session Geneva, February 14 to 22, 2012
Indigenous Peoples and Nations present at the International Indigenous Forum
during WIPO IGC 20, have evaluated our participation in all of the proceedings
of this Committee, and we note with concern the continued reduction of the
amount and level of our participation in this process.
Indigenous Peoples have participated as experts in the IGC sessions, we have
worked in good faith, and we have made efforts over the years to submit to the
IGC sessions our collectively developed and sound proposals, which have been
ignored or left in brackets in negotiation texts.
The IGC, in
its overall procedures, has systematically ignored our rights, as Indigenous
Peoples and as Nations with internationally recognized collective rights, to
self-determination and full and equitable participation at all levels.
study of the Secretariat on the participation of observers before the IGC does
not contain modifications proposed by the Indigenous Peoples to WIPO’s rules of
procedure. The States have obligations under their constitutions that have not
been observed in the IGC, nor have they submitted proposals that could resolve
the existing deficiencies in order to improve our participation.
delegates: we, the Indigenous Peoples, are the titleholders, proprietors and
ancestral owners of traditional knowledge that is inalienable, nonforfeitable
and inherent to the genetic resources that we have conserved and utilized in a
sustainable manner within our territories. For this reason, we appeal to the
States to acknowledge that the discussion on intellectual property rights and
genetic resources should include Indigenous Peoples on equal terms with the
States since the work will directly impact our lives, our lands, our
territories and resources, and will reach to the very heart of our cultures,
which are the inheritance of future generations.
the Indigenous Peoples present at IGC 20 have reflected seriously on our role
in this process and have decided, unanimously, to withdraw our active
participation in the work developed by this Committee until the States change
the rules of procedure to permit our full and equitable participation at all
levels of the IGC and until the instruments recognize and are consistent with
the existing international frameworks for the rights and interests of
Indigenous Peoples within the scope of the IGC.
Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources
Published by: Magne Ove Varsi