International Conference on the TRIPS CBD Linkage to be held on 7-8 June in Geneva

May 31, 2018 16:50 IST
International Conference on the TRIPS CBD Linkage to be held on 7-8 June in Geneva

The International Conference on TRIPS- CBD Linkage will be held in Geneva on June 7-8, 2018 to revive WTO discussions on issues related to theft of traditional knowledge.

The conference will be organised jointly by Indian Government, Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and the South Centre, an inter-governmental organisation based in Geneva.

International Conference on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) - Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Linkage

• The international conference will bring together indigenous people and communities in developing and developed countries; internationally acclaimed academicians; Geneva-based negotiators; and capital based experts.

• Brazil and South Africa are some of the other countries that have joined India on this crucial initiative.

• All these together will brainstorm on the options for energising negotiations in the WTO on the subject of theft of traditional knowledge such as Ayurveda and naturopathy.

• Experts from various countries would participate in the international conference. These countries are- Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Peru, Philippines, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, and the US.

What is Traditional knowledge?

Traditional knowledge, a kind of intellectual property, is something which is passed on from generation to generation within a community. It often forms part of a people's cultural and spiritual identity.

In India, the Traditional knowledge includes areas like Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy.

Doha Ministerial Declaration on TRIPS-CBD Linkage

• The Doha Ministerial Declaration in 2001 had tasked the TRIPS Council of the WTO to examine the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore.

• It also mandated that the Council should be guided by the objectives and principles set out in the TRIPS Agreement and should fully take into account the development dimension.

• After much considerable debates and deliberations on the subject, no common understanding has yet been reached at the WTO.

Actions taken by developing countries for TRIPS-CBD Linkage

• In 2008, developing countries garnered the support of the European Union to form a coalition of 109 countries, which included the African and Caribbean and Pacific Countries, for the TRIPS-CBD Linkage and seeking amendment of the TRIPS Agreement.

• India and Brazil along with other like-minded countries in 2011 submitted a proposal along similar lines for incorporating the mechanism under the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

• However, after all this, the discussions appear to have lost steam.

Convention on Biological Diversity and Nagoya Protocol

The Convention on Biological Diversity is a multilateral agreement on sustainable development that has been ratified by 196 nations.

The Convention entered into force on 29 December 1993.

The convention calls for:

  • Conservation of biological diversity
  • Sustainable use of its components
  • Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources

Nagoya Protocol

  • At the 10th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, the Nagoya Protocol on Access & Benefit Sharing (ABS) was adopted in 2010.
  • The Nagoya Protocol came into effect in 2014 and provides a legal framework for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources for research purpose.
  • At present, more than 100 countries have acceded to the protocol.

Why TRIPS-CBD Linkage

• TRIPS CBD Linkage is important for India and other developing countries because it seeks to address bio-piracy.

• It has been a long standing demand of the developing countries that patents should not be granted for existing traditional knowledge and associated genetic resources.  

• The developing countries seek an amendment in the TRIPS Agreement to make disclosure of source or origin of genetic resource or traditional knowledge by patent applicants.

• These countries also pressed for submission of evidence of informed consent of local communities and evidence of fair and equitable sharing of benefits.

Trips agreement

• The Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organisation lays down minimum standards for protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in member countries.

• The Agreement came into force on January 1, 1995 and provides for a minimum term of protection of IPRs of 20 years, counted from the date of filing.


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