Geneva, 18 Dec 2003
1. This document provides updated information on various steps under way to facilitate the participation of indigenous and local communities in the work of WIPO concerning intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. It concentrates on enhanced involvement of these communities in the work of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore ('the Committee'). It addresses the specific question of the possible provision of financial support for the participation of indigenous and local communities in sessions of the Committee, as a means to facilitate their involvement in WIPO's work on these issues.
2. The WIPO General Assembly and the Committee itself have both emphasized the need for enhanced involvement of representatives of these communities. At its fifth session, the Committee discussed a set of proposals for enhanced involvement (document WIPO/GRTKF/IC/5/11), which itself was based on a survey of practices of other United Nations agencies and relevant intergovernmental organizations in facilitating the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Committee agreed on a number of proposals, which have already been implemented in practice. The Committee also discussed further possibilities for the direct financing of participation of representatives of indigenous and local communities, with particular focus on the possibility of establishing a Voluntary Fund.
3. For practical reasons, immediate steps are preferred to further general debate, in light of the time-frame of the Committee's work. Therefore, and as an interim and immediate step toward a possible more formalized approach in the future, the present document discusses the possibility of promoting an approach of facilitating informal NGO consultations, convened by NGO observers to the Committee, which would be held immediately prior to the Committee's sessions but would have no formal linkage with the Committee. Existing or new voluntary funding initiatives, independent of WIPO, could focus on facilitating the participation of representatives of indigenous and local communities in the consultative forum and then extended to cover the participation in the Committee itself of those who are representatives of accredited ad hoc observers.
4. This would enable immediate improvements in the participation of such representatives in the work of the Committee and create a stronger consultative and informational basis for such representatives. It would also lay practical groundwork for the development of any more formalized approach to enhanced participation, such as the creation of a specific Voluntary Fund, which the Committee may need to consider further before any such formal structure can be fully implemented.