Beyond Intellectual Property: Toward Traditional Resource Rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

Beyond Intellectual Property: Toward Traditional Resource Rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

Beyond Intellectual Property: Toward Traditional Resource Rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

Beyond Intellectual Property: Toward Traditional Resource Rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

Synopsis

For indigenous peoples' groups, activists and policymakers in intellectual property, and all those concerned with the preservation of our planet's biological and cultural diversity, Beyond Intellectual Property provides an invaluable and eye-opening look into one of the most provocative and explosive issues of this century and likely the next: the patenting of life.

Excerpt

The Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights was established in 1990 by the Global Coalition for Bio-Cultural Diversity, whose mission was to to unite indigenous peoples, scientific organizations, and environmental groups to implement a forceful strategy for the use of traditional knowledge, involvement of local peoples in conservation and development strategies, and implementation of alternative, people-centred conservation models.

With the generous support of the World Wide Fund for Nature International, funds were acquired by the working group to establish a mailing list and a database of publications and people interested in intellectual property rights (IPR) and to hold a number of seminars for indigenous peoples on this subject. the seminars were aimed at alerting indigenous peoples to the relevance and urgency of ipr issues in the context of two major global negotiation processes — the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED), or Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Another purpose of the seminars was to listen to the concerns of indigenous communities so as to orient the ipr debate toward their needs, expectations, and practical problems.

During the Earth Summit, the Global Coalition organized the Earth Parliament as the principal venue for indigenous and traditional peoples. This forum brought together indigenous leaders from over 80 countries to discuss issues of mutual concern, including ipr.

Since the Earth Summit, dozens of conferences, seminars, and workshops have been held with indigenous peoples to discuss the evolving debate over ipr. These meetings include the ones held for 4 consecutive years by the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as the United Nations Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna, Austria, in 1993. This book embodies these efforts and the input of many people over a considerable period of time.

It is organized around a series of questions that we believe might emerge in a community when a visitor arrives to collect information or cultural or biogenetic materials. These questions would be the same whether the community was an indigenous settlement in the Amazon or a village in rural England. Each chapter begins with a summary of the main issues it addresses and ends with options and suggested actions.

The terminology used here is a mixture of scientific, legal, economic, and political jargon — not always easily understood and even more difficult to translate. Yet, the synthesis necessary to develop the sui generis view of trr bound us to acquaint the reader with as many of these terms as possible. Words and terms defined in the glossary appear in heavy italics where they are first mentioned.

The book concludes with some warnings and suggested actions for local communities. These are intended to help guide communities through the basic questions that . . .

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