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World Intellectual Property Organization
Since 2002, AFS has been accredited as an official non-governmental participant in the activities of the World Intellectual Property Organization's Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC-GRTKF). The WIPO, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, brings together over 90% of the world’s governments and over 150 non-governmental organizations to develop and oversee international policies, agreements, and treaties about intellectual property—the ownership rights of creators, artists, researchers, inventors, and the like to their work.

The AFS is concerned that protection of the rights of traditional communities and their members not be overlooked in WIPO philosophy, policies and agreements, or in other comparable international arenas, to be is replaced there by solely commercial interests. We are also concerned that many traditional communities’ own customary and traditional systems for protecting ownership and cultural rights are not sufficiently incorporated into the working knowledge of such international organizations or the governments of their nation-state members.

In 2002, the Society’s Executive Board approved a document, which we presented to WIPO late that year, outlining sixteen recommendations for actions the WIPO should take to mitigate the impact of transnational intellectual property systems on traditional communities and to bring traditional communities into more active participation in the international discussion of intellectual property issues. Since that time, AFS has been an active participant in the work and meetings of the IGC, and an advocate for the perspectives of traditional communities and the scholars who study them.

The Society's delegate to the IGC-GRTKF is Dr. Sandy Rikoon of the Department of Rural Sociology of the University of Missouri, Columbia; our alternate delegate is Steven Hatcher of Geneva, Switzerland. You can find a bibliography and webography of documents related to WIPO's work with folklore here.



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American Folklore Society
Mershon Center, The Ohio State University, 1501 Neil Avenue, Columbus OH 43201-2602 USA
614/292-4715; fax: 614/292-2199; www.afsnet.org


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