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Third Meeting of the Ad hoc Open-ended Inter-sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Montreal, Canada; 8-12 December 2003

Daily Web Coverage |Curtain| |Mon 8| |Tue 9| |Wed 10| |Thu 11| |Fri 12|

Highlights for Monday, 8 December 2003

The third meeting of the Open-ended Inter-Sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) began on Monday with an indigenous opening ceremony. Delegates convened in Plenary and sub-working group sessions. Plenary heard opening statements, addressed organizational matters, and considered progress reports on the implementation of the work programme on Article 8(j) and the integration of relevant tasks of the work programme in the thematic areas of the CBD. While Sub-Working Group I (SWG-I) considered a composite report on the status and trends regarding the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, Sub-Working Group II (SWG-II) began discussing sui generis systems for their protection.

Above photo: A delegation of Mohawks invited delegates to clear their eyes, ears and minds to be open for the negotiations to take place this week.


Above photo: Bird's eye view of the opening ceremony. 

Above photo: Members of the Mohawk Nation.



Above photo: Charles Patton (left) reciting the Mohawk worldview and welcoming delegates from other territories to Mohawk traditional territory.

The Thunderhawk Singers leading the other peoples into the meeting hall with a stump dance.

Above photo: Hamdallah Zedan, CBD Executive Secretary (center) 

Above photo: A delegation of Mahowaks invited delegates to clear their eyes, ears and minds to be open for the negotiations to take place this week.


Above photo L-R: Nehimiah Rotich (UNEP), Paul Chabeda, Charles Patton (Mohawk Nation), Hamdallah Zedan (CBD), and Hans Hoogeveen (the Netherlands) 

Hans Hoogeveen, President of the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP), opened the meeting, expressing appreciation to the indigenous representatives that performed the ceremonial opening. He stressed the role of indigenous and local communities for the Convention’s implementation and urged participants to maintain the political momentum of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan expressed gratitude to the Spanish government for its financial support for indigenous participation. He outlined the meeting’s agenda, and invited delegates to keep the cooperative spirit that prevailed during previous Working Group meetings.

Nehemiah Rotich
(above), on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer, commended the CBD for being the first multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) to fully recognize the role played by indigenous and local communities in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and said other MEAs should start exploring means for  enhancing indigenous participation. 

Viviana Figueroa (above) of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity noted the inappropriateness of western intellectual property rights systems for the protection of traditional knowledge, and presented recommendations from the indigenous forum.

John Herity
(Canada) (above) highlighted the UNDP’s Equator Initiative as an example of community empowerment for the sustainable management of resources, and said this effort would be showcased at COP-7 through the awarding of the Equator Prize in parallel to the High-level segment of the meeting.

On behalf of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), Esther Camac (above) highlighted: MA’s finalization in 2005; recognition of the importance of traditional knowledge for policy making; analysis of community knowledge; and a forthcoming meeting on linking local knowledge and global science in multi-scale assessments (Alexandria, Egypt, 17-20 March 2004).


Phyllida Cheyne-Middlemiss
, The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), described the work of its Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), which addresses, inter alia, the scope of traditional knowledge, the distinction between traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression, and mechanisms for protecting traditional knowledge and preventing its unauthorized use. 

Merle Alexander
(The Kitasoo Xai’Xais First Nation) commended the creation of a Friends of the Bureau group including members from the indigenous community and regretted the lack of this practice in other UN processes.


Above photo: Sub-working Group I dais Chaired by John Herity (Canada) (center) and Co-Chaired by Earl Stevenson (Peguis First Nations) (left).

Jayshree Vencatesan
,  (above) Care Earth, on behalf of several Indian NGOs, stressed that registers of traditional knowledge should prioritize the safeguarding of knowledge and remain under the communities’ control.

Josien Aloema-Tokoe
, (COICA), declared that the establishment of the WG on Article 8j and the revocation of a patent on Ayahuasca are major steps in the struggle for the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights over their knowledge and resources.

Ben Donnie
(Liberia), noted that gaps in the composite report are due to the lack of submissions by parties, expressing hope that they can be addressed soon.


asked to consider the public policies, and social, economic and environmental situations where the application of intellectual property rights can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. Above photo L-R: Jesus Vega Herrera, Jorge Larson Guerra, and Jose Carlos Fernandez (Mexico)

Above photo L-R:Sub-working Group II Chair Diann Black Layne (Antigua and Barbuda) and Co-Chair Lucy Mulenkei (African Indigenous Women Organization)

noted that some of the requests in the document resembled work already, or soon to be completed in the context of WIPO’s IGC. He suggested recommending WIPO to continue work underway and submit results of their work to the CBD. He cautioned against duplicating work being carried out by others and called for the CBD’s limited resources to be used as efficiently and carefully as possible. Above photo: Christian Prip (Denmark)

, on behalf of the African Group, noted that the majority of African people live in rural areas and that their traditional knowledge is necessary to ensure the survival of resources under their care. He welcomed initatives developing a sui generis system, codes of conduct and ethics, and especially impact statements of development on sacred sites.  Above photo: Sem Taukondjo Shikongo (Namibia)

stressed the need to protect traditional knowledge from unauthorized use, and expressed concerns over the unauthorized access of computerized compilations of traditional knowledge.

A CAXA-RAIPON representative presented her research on popular medicine noting similarities between the practices of indigenous peoples in Canada and Russia. Above photo: Alexandra Grigorieva (CAXA-RAIPON) (center) with the Thunderhawk Singers.


ENB Coverage and Summary (HTML, PDF, TEXT) of the First Meeting of the  Ad Hoc Open-ended Intersessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the convention on Biological Diversity
ENB Coverage and Summary (HTML, PDF, TEXT) of the Second Meeting of the  Ad Hoc Open-ended Intersessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the convention on Biological Diversity
ENB Coverage and Summary (HTML, PDF, TEXT) of CBD SBSTTA-9
ENB coverage of the First Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-Sharing
ENB archives of CBD meetings
CBD web site
CBD Article 8(j) official meeting documents 
SD summary and coverage of the Vth IUCN World Parks Congress.
SD summary of the Norway/UN Conference on Technology Transfer and Capacity Building.  
First Meeting of the CGRFA acting as Interim Committee for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
World Intellectual Property Organization
UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

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