29 MARCH 2010
WORKING GROUP ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT SHARING 9TH SESSION
2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and it is vital that Parties complete the task that has been set to adopt a Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing.
As Indigenous Peoples, we are responding to the International Year by working so that the CBD objectives agreed almost 20 years ago are achieved, both in protection of the world's biodiversity and its sustainable use and towards the fair and equitable sharing of benefits, arising from the use of genetic resource and associated traditional knowledge.
It is important to understand that our empowerment to exercise our rights is a key aspect to the protection of the biodiversity, and that our rights in relation to biodiversity, including genetic resources, must be a cornerstone of the international ABS regime for the future Protocol to be successful.
Indigenous Peoples represent the principle that all peoples have responsibilities and obligations to preserve mother nature which sustains us and defines our own existence. Indigenous peoples endeavour to fulfill these responsibilities within our homelands according to our cultural traditions.
Since 2007 the United Nations has recognised our existence as peoples, thus overturning historical myth that we do not have rights to self-government or collective rights to our territories and resources.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, also clarifies that indigenous peoples, like all peoples, have the clear right to self-determination, and the right to make our own decisions regarding our livelihoods, cultures and futures.
We are pleased to see that our rights in relation to Traditional Knowledge associated with Genetic Resources is recognised in the draft protocol. We have no reason to believe that this recognition will change.
We still expect that our rights to Traditional Knowledge will be regarded as a cross-cutting issue and that Traditional Knowledge will be incorporated into the section on Compliance.
We note that some Parties have suggested that Indigenous Peoples do not want States to provide protection for traditional knowledge.
Whilst Indigenous Peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop our Traditional Knowledge, Parties also have obligations under international law to implement effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.
We do not agree with the suggestions that compliance measures regarding Traditional Knowledge be referred to WIPO.
We do not have much faith in the WIPO discussions, having participated in fifteen sessions, so far, of the IGC on Genetic Resources Traditional Knowledge and Folklore.
We consider that our rights to TK and associated Genetic Resources is better addressed in the ABS international regime because this is where the structure, capacity and information for compliance is to be established.
We have requested that the draft protocol reflect 'the interrelationship between genetic resources and traditional knowledge and the inseparable nature of these resources and knowledge to Indigenous Peoples and local communities'. We hope that Parties will be able to affirm this important relationship in the language of the protocol.
Indigenous Peoples do not see the Protocol on ABS as a narrow trade agreement, in which the remaining valuable resources from biodiversity and traditional knowledge are extracted, expropriated, and privatised through intellectual property rights.
Indigenous Peoples have been the custodians of biodiversity, enhanced through the application of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices.
This historical heritage must be fully valued in the ABS Protocol, and fully rewarded and enhanced as a continuing legacy for future generations.