Experts and officials unanimously agreed Sunday in Algiers on the necessity of uniting the African position in protecting genetic resources and traditional knowledge related to them during the Diplomatic Conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to be held in India in 2024.
While supervising the opening of the African Regional Meeting on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge related to it, the Director General of Multilateral Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Community Abroad, Mohamed Barah, confirmed that this meeting aims to “unify and come up with a unified African position, with the aim of participating in the diplomatic conference that It will be held in 2024, to adopt a legal system that guarantees the protection of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.
And he added, in this context, that the African continent, in this diplomatic conference, “will work to have a balanced role in the negotiations, in order to protect these genetic resources of the countries of the south and ensure that their concerns and interests are taken care of.”
He stated that the meeting in Algeria today is “an important station to come up with common and unified positions for all African countries, to go to final negotiations and a unified position that guarantees the protection of genetic resources and the rights of countries that are the origin of these genetic resources and traditional knowledge.”
He pointed out that the African continent is considered “a reservoir of traditional knowledge and genetic resources, and in many cases these resources have been exploited (…) for economic, industrial and other purposes, in the absence of legal framework and regulation.”
He stressed that this meeting “indicates the importance that the Algerian authorities attach to this issue, which made great efforts to coordinate the work of the African Group in Geneva (WIPO headquarters) and resulted in the adoption of a resolution by the WIPO General Assembly in 2022 calling for the convening of this diplomatic conference in 2024.”
For his part, Edward Kwakwa, Deputy Director General of WIPO, said, “Many African countries have traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources that they can benefit from economically.”
The expert pointed out that the meeting in Algeria “is part of the framework of general regional consultations that were also held in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region,” praising Algeria’s pioneering role in coordination among the members of the African Group.
For her part, the head of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property Related to Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, Lily Claire Blamey, said that “during the diplomatic conference in 2024, it is important that the agreement that will be concluded reflect the positions of the African group as well as the countries of the South, As the agreement must be balanced in order to win the vote of most countries.
The expert pointed out that “in the absence of this agreement, African countries will record great losses due to the free exploitation of their genetic resources by industrialized countries.”
She praised Algeria’s “decisive role in convening the Diplomatic Conference in 2024, through the efforts of its permanent representation in Geneva.”
About 50 African experts from about 30 WIPO member states, in addition to experts from outside the continent, are participating in this regional meeting, which is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the national community abroad in coordination with “WIPO” over the course of three days.
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