Friday, July 20, 2007

Developing countries will face the challenge of moving the IGC discussion towards norm-setting

The Innovation & Access to Knowledge Programme (IAKP) team of South Centre was an Observor at the recently concluded Eleventh Session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committe on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) held in Geneva from July 3 to July 12, 2007.

The IAKP team notes that the current IGC mandate expires by the end of 2007. Accordingly, the recently concluded session was crucial in determining the future of the IGC process. The Committee decided to recommend to the WIPO General Assembly that the current mandate of the IGC be extended for two more years. The decision also recommends that the General Assembly reassert that the future work of the Committee will not exclude “the possible development of an international instrument or instruments” and urge the IGC to accelerate its work and to present a progress report to the session of the General Assembly in September 2008.

Although WIPO Member States agreed to recommend to the next General Assembly the renewal of the IGC mandate, the recommendation adopted was watered down by developed countries which refused to accept language that would mandate the IGC to focus on the development of an international binding instrument(s) on TK and EoF. Therefore, developing countries in the next two years of the IGC will be faced with the challenge of moving the IGC discussion towards norm-setting.