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WIPO adopts historic treaty on intellectual property, genetic resources, and traditional knowledge

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The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has announced the adoption of a historic treaty aimed at addressing the complex issues surrounding intellectual property (IP), genetic resources, and associated traditional knowledge.

The new treaty establishes a comprehensive framework for the protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, ensuring that the benefits arising from their use are shared equitably. This includes clear guidelines for the access to genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge, as well as mechanisms for ensuring that the rights of indigenous and local communities are respected and upheld. Indigenous and local communities have long advocated for recognition and protection of their traditional knowledge, which encompasses a wide range of practices, innovations, and cultural expressions developed over generations. The treaty provides legal mechanisms to prevent the misappropriation and unauthorised use of this knowledge, ensuring that communities retain control over their heritage.

The treaty also focuses on the equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. This includes provisions for prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms between users and providers of genetic resources. These measures aim to ensure that the benefits, whether monetary or non-monetary, are fairly distributed, supporting the sustainable development and well-being of indigenous and local communities.

The adoption of this treaty marks a significant achievement in international IP law and sets a precedent for future agreements. It underscores the importance of balancing innovation with respect for the rights and knowledge of indigenous and local communities. The treaty’s implementation will require collaborative efforts from governments, international organisations, and stakeholders to create an effective and inclusive system for managing genetic resources and traditional knowledge.

For a full reading of the media release, see here.

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