WIPO and the Reinforcement of the Nagoya Protocol: Towards Effective Implementation of an Access and Benefit Sharing Regime for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources
Traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources (TKaGRs) is acknowledged as a valuable resource. Its value draws from economic, social, cultural, and innovative uses. This value places TK at the heart of competing interests as between indigenous peoples who hold it and depend on it for their survival, and profitable industries which seek to exploit it in the global market space. The latter group seek, inter alia, to advance and maintain their global competitiveness by exploiting TKaGRs leads in their research and development activities connected with modern innovation. Biopiracy remains an issue of central concern to the developing world and has emerged in this context as a label for the inequity arising from the misappropriation of TKaGRs located in the South by commercial interests usually located in the North. Significant attention and resources are being channeled at global efforts to design and implement effective protection mechanisms for TKaGRs against the incidence of biopiracy. The emergence and recent entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol offers the latest example of a concluded multilateral effort in this regard. The Nagoya Protocol, adopted on the platform of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), establishes an open-ended international access and benefit sharing (ABS) regime which is comprised of the Protocol as well as several complementary instruments. By focusing on the trans-regime nature of biopiracy, this thesis argues that the intellectual property (IP) system forms a central part of the problem of biopiracy, and so too to the very efforts to implement solutions, including through the Nagoya Protocol. The ongoing related work within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), aimed at developing an international instrument (or a series of instruments) to address the effective protection of TK, constitutes an essential complementary process to the Nagoya Protocol, and, as such, forms a fundamental element within the Nagoya Protocol’s evolving ABS regime-complex. By adopting a third world approach to international law, this thesis draws central significance from its reconceptualization of biopiracy as a trans-regime concept. By construing the instrument(s) being negotiated within WIPO as forming a central component part of the Nagoya Protocol, this dissertation’s analysis highlights the importance of third world efforts to secure an IP-based reinforcement to the Protocol for the effective eradication of biopiracy.