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WIPO to Host Diplomatic Conference on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

07-May-2024 | Source : The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) | Visits : 916

WIPO member state delegates will convene May 13-24, 2024, at the Organization’s Geneva headquarters for the final leg of negotiations of a proposed treaty relating to intellectual property, genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources

GENEVA - Over 1200 delegates, observers - including Indigenous Peoples - and other stakeholders from across the globe have registered to join the “Diplomatic Conference,” which will cap decades-long negotiations among the World Intellectual Property (WIPO) member states on the subject, a press release stated by WIPO.

Member States reached a breakthrough consensus in July 2022 to move their negotiations to the next level, determining that a Diplomatic Conference should be held before the end of 2024 and that a "Basic Proposal" would serve as the basis for negotiations. 

“This is a historic moment as the last negotiations at this scale and size that took place at WIPO’s premises in Geneva happened almost 30 years ago.

The WIPO Secretariat has prepared for months to welcome to the premises our delegates, observers and others with a stake in these negotiations. And now all of us at WIPO stand ready to support the negotiators as they get down to work to forge a consensual outcome and show that multilateralism can deliver results for all,” WIPO Director General Daren Tang said. 

What are Genetic Resources and associated Traditional Knowledge?
Genetic resources are contained in, for example, medicinal plants, agricultural crops, and animal breeds. While genetic resources themselves cannot be directly protected as intellectual property, inventions developed using them can, most often through a patent.

Some genetic resources are also associated with traditional knowledge through their use and conservation by Indigenous Peoples as well as local communities, often over generations. This knowledge is sometimes used in scientific research and, as such, may contribute to the development of a protected invention.

What is a Diplomatic Conference?

A WIPO diplomatic conference is typically convoked by a decision of the WIPO General Assembly, which defines the objective of the conference and the general conditions for participation. Diplomatic conferences are governed by their own rules of procedure and customary international law. Accordingly, it is the conference itself that adopts the treaty and a final act.

Upon opening, the diplomatic conference in Geneva will be divided into two committees: Main Committee I and Main Committee II. The first committee’s mandate is to negotiate and agree on all substantive intellectual property provisions and recommend them for adoption by the plenary. The second committee is charged with negotiating and agreeing on all administrative provisions and final clauses, such as who can join the future treaty and the conditions for its entry into force. Three other committees are also formed: the Credentials Committee, which verifies credentials of delegations to participate in the conference and to sign the treaty; the Drafting Committee, which ensures the six language versions of the treaty, which are equally authentic, are properly aligned; and the Steering Committee, which includes the chief officers of all the committees and ensures the process is on track.

When all committees finalize their work, the treaty is sent to the conference plenary for adoption. It is then open for signature. Signing the treaty at the end of a diplomatic conference does not commit a country to being bound by its provisions. It is, however, a strong indication of intent by the signatory. The final act – a record that the conference took place – is also open for signature after adoption.

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