Service on WTO and Trade Issues (July09/09)
The IGC ended its meeting with agreement that on the future work │The IGC did not reach agreement on this agenda item▓. However informal consultations among delegations may continue as members head for the WIPO General Assembly in September, sources say.
The 14th session was a critical meeting for the future of the IGC as its 2-year mandate ends this year. For the IGC to continue, WIPO members have to agree to renew its mandate and elements of the renewed mandate.
Failure to agree at the Committee level means that the contentious debate on the future of the IGC will emerge once again at the WIPO General Assembly that meets in September and the Assembly will have the task of finding consensus on IGC╣s mandate.
The IGC was created in 2000 as a forum to address the issue of misappropriation of Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions and Folklore (GRTKF) as a result of the IP system and the protection of GRTKF. In September 2003, the General Assembly both extended and substantially broadened IGC╣s mandate. It was instructed to among other things │accelerate its work▓ and │focus on the international dimension of intellectual property, GR, TK and folklore,▓ excluding │no outcome, including the possible development of an international instrument or instruments in this field.▓
However developing countries are frustrated with the lack of concrete outcomes after 13 sessions of the Committee.
In an attempt to infuse momentum and expedite negotiations on the development and adoption of an international legally binding instrument for the protection of GRTKF, Africa Group had submitted a proposal titled │Elements for the New Mandate▓ before the start of the 14th session.
The proposal recommended text for IGC╣s renewed mandate for 2010/2011 that called for │text based negotiations▓, establishing international legally binding instrument/s for GRTKF and that outlined a defined work program and timeframes for its work in the 2010/2011 biennium including for inter-sessional work sessions and a diplomatic conference.
The Africa Group proposal formed the basis for negotiations in the week-long discussions. Although the proposal received enormous backing from developing countries and NGOs representing indigenous peoples present at the session, developed countries preferred that the renewed mandate of the IGC contain a less ambitious goal with softer language.
Among proposals that were vigorously contested and rejected by developing countries were proposals by developed countries that proposed replacing │text based negotiations▓ with │outcome-oriented deliberations▓; │legally binding▓ with language that states │without prejudice to any outcomes, including the development of a legally binding instrument▓ or even │legally binding or non-legally binding▓; and to replace │diplomatic conference▓ with │a high level meeting▓.
On Wednesday, (following general statements in the IGC on the first 2 days of the meeting) Africa Group╣s proposal was considered in the plenary. Although the Chair persistently proclaimed that it was not a drafting exercise, delegations reviewed the proposal paragraph-by-paragraph and proposed amendments (additions, deletions) to the original proposal.
The exercise revealed vividly the chasm between developing and developed countries. Particularly contentious were text of the Africa Group proposal that recommended that the renewal of the IGC should contain the following language:
│The Committee will undertake during the next budgetary biennium (2010/2011) text based negotiations on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional expressions.▓
│The Committee is requested to submit to the 2011 GA a text for an internationally legally binding instrument/instruments on TCEs, TK and GR and recommend a date for the Diplomatic Conference as agreed in its work program▓.
US proposed deletion of the language │text based negotiations▓ and replacing it with │outcome-oriented deliberations on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, without prejudice to any outcome and on the basis of the Committee╣s prior work▓.
EU also proposed replacing the paragraph in the Africa Group proposal on submitting to 2011 a text for an internationally legally binding instrument/s on GRTKF with a paragraph that states │The Committee is requested that the result of its work should lead to an internationally legally binding or non-legally binding instrument/s on GRTKF▓.
Mexico proposed alternative language that │The Committee is requested to submit to the 2011 GA a text/s for an international instrument/instruments on TCEs, TK and GR and to recommend a date for the Diplomatic Conference, if applicable▓.
US also proposed alternative language that │The Committee is requested to submit to the 2011 GA recommendations on content for an outcome or outcomes, including the nature, format and status and how the Committee should finalise its recommendations on TCEs, TK and GR and recommend a date for a high-level meeting to be considered in its work program▓.
In a separate proposal submitted by the EU on Thursday, it proposed: │No outcome of the Committee╣s work is excluded, including the possible development of a legally-binding international instrument or instruments.▓
Africa Group after some consultations on Thursday morning insisted on retaining the key elements of its original proposal, that developed countries attempted to dilute.
Many other developing countries agreed that the amendments suggested by developed countries violated the spirit of the original proposal, and championed the Africa Group proposal as │emerging consensus▓ among a majority of countries attending the IGC.
Despite the convictions expressed by the majority, the 14th session concluded late Friday night without a renewed mandate to present to the GA. As the negotiations drew to an end some delegations expressed their deep concerns with the indefinite results.