Traditional Knowledge on Genetic Resources: Safeguarding the Cultural Sustenance of Indigenous Communities

  •  Wan Izatul Asma Wan Talaat    
  •  Norhayati Mohd Tahir    
  •  Mohd Lokman Husain    


Traditional knowledge, generally defined as the long-standing traditions and practices of certain regional, indigenous, or local communities, constitutes a cumulative body of knowledge, know-how, practices, and representations maintained and developed by peoples with extended histories of interaction with the natural environment. Recognition, protection and enforcement of the rights of indigenous communities to have continued access to biological genetic resources is quite related to the principle of sustainable and use of biological diversity crucial not only for the continued sustenance of their culture but also to protect their knowledge, acquired over thousands of years of experimentation and experience, about the uses biological resources can be put to particularly in medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations. The signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 has brought international intention to intellectual property laws to preserve, protect and promote their traditional knowledge. CBD recognises the value of traditional knowledge in protecting species, ecosystems and landscapes, which are inextricably associated to the sustainable conservation and use of natural resources. On the other hand, the subsequent adoption of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1994 could be interpreted to contradict the agreements made under the CBD. This paper highlights the efforts to protect traditional knowledge in the midst of the dichotomy between CBD and TRIPS.

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