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Otafiire reassures WIPO on Uganda’s plan to protect traditional knowledge


AT WIPO ASSEMBLY:  Amb. Francis Butagira (left) Chair Board of Directors URSB; Dr. Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO; Kahinda Otafiire, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs;  Bemanya Twebaze, Registrar General, URSB. PHOTO  Mission of Uganda to the UN, Geneva

Geneva, Switzerland | MOFA | Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Kahinda Otafiire has told the 2017 General Assembly of the World Intelectual Property Organization (WIPO) that Uganda has stepped up efforts to ensure protection of traditional knowledge and the country’s genetic resources.

He said protection of  traditional knowlede and genetic resources from misappropriation, is a key ingredient of Uganda’s National Intellectual Property strategy for promoting creativity and innovation amongst its indigenous peoples and local communities. This he said will help promote access to alternative health care, food security, preservation of biodiversity and sustainable development.

Otafiire who is leading Uganda’s delegation to the assembly, emphasized the contribution of traditional knowledge systems to the social and economic development of Uganda.

Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and its decision-making bodies are meeting this week (October 2-11), in Geneva Switzerland with the hope of reaching a decision to convene a high-level meeting (diplomatic conference) to conclude a potential international instrument(s) or Treaty, in 2019 aimed at preventing the misappropriation of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.

“African countries are primary beneficiaries of this treaty. This is because the modern intellectual property system does not adequately protect traditional knowledge systems nor local inventions based on genetic resources and traditional cultural artifacts and materials,” Otafiire said in his statement.

Otafiire told the assembly that a potential treaty to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, at the international level is a priority issue for Uganda in the WIPO.

“Traditional knowledge systems in Uganda have long been used to ensure access to alternative medicines (e.g. herbalists), promote sustainable agricultural production and conserve the environment,” Otafiire said.

He concluded by urging member states to negotiate in a transparent and cooperative manner and with good faith to ensure that a diplomatic conference to negotiate a treaty to prevent misappropriation of Genetic resources in 2019.

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