Liberia Urges Constructive Engagement at Ongoing WIPO Diplomatic Conference

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The conference, which runs from May 13-24, brings together WIPO member state delegates, observers – including Indigenous Peoples – and other stakeholders from across the globe to negotiate a proposed treaty relating to intellectual property, genetic resources, and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.
In an address to the conference, Hon. Koboi called on all delegates to negotiate with openness and cooperation so that “the outcome of the conference” meets the diverse needs and aspirations of all nations.
According to her, the gathering, as convened by WIPO, represents a critical moment in global efforts to forge a consensus on the protection and utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, which are issues of profound importance to the sustainable development and cultural heritage of all nations.
“The outcomes of this conference hold significant implications for the future of global intellectual property governance,” Hon. Koboi said in brief remarks at the conference opening on May 13.
“As we deliberate on the draft text of the legal instrument under consideration, Liberia urges all parties to engage constructively and with a spirit of cooperation. The resulting framework must be comprehensive, clear, and responsive to the needs and aspirations of all nations, particularly those with rich biodiversity and cultural heritage,” she added.
According to Hon. Koboi, Liberia is steadfast in its commitment to fostering a balanced and inclusive approach to intellectual property rights, one that recognizes and respects the rights of all stakeholders, especially indigenous and local communities who are the custodians of traditional knowledge.
She added that once delegates at the conference adopt the text of the final treaty relating to intellectual property, genetic resources, and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, Liberia would begin its domestication to drive socio-economic development.
“We will push measures that empower these communities to actively participate in decision-making processes and benefit equally from the commercialization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge,” Hon. Koboi said.
The ongoing WIPO conference comes after its member states nearly three years ago reached a breakthrough consensus to move their negotiations to the next level, determining that a Diplomatic Conference should be held before the end of 2024 and that a “Basic Proposal” would serve as the basis for negotiations.
A breakthrough this time around, according to experts, would mean a better representation of the pivotal role genetic resources play in innovation, while underscoring how a strong IP system is a powerful catalyst for inclusive growth.
What are Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge?
Genetic resources are contained in, for example, medicinal plants, agricultural crops, and animal breeds. While genetic resources themselves cannot be directly protected as intellectual property, inventions developed using them can, most often through a patent. Some genetic resources are also associated with traditional knowledge through their use and conservation by Indigenous Peoples as well as local communities, often over generations.
This knowledge is sometimes used in scientific research and, as such, may contribute to the development of a protected invention.
WIPO member state delegates officially launched historic final-stage negotiations on a proposed treaty relating to intellectual property, genetic resources, and associated traditional knowledge.
In a speech opening the conference on May 13, Daren Tang, WIPO Director General, called on negotiators to marry passion with pragmatism in advancing their work.
Mr. Tang underlined the historic nature of the negotiations and said: “Let me be candid – negotiations will not be easy. Negotiations dealing with significant and important topics rarely are. But I call on all of you to marry passion with pragmatism, and channel the same spirit of flexibility, accommodation, and consensus that has brought us now to the cusp of a truly landmark agreement.
“At this Diplomatic Conference, we can show that there is no contradiction between a robust and predictable IP regime – one that incentivizes innovation, attracts investments and drives game-changing research – and one that responds to the needs of all countries and their communities everywhere, including those from Indigenous Peoples as well as from Local Communities.
A more inclusive and diverse IP system is not just a more dynamic IP system, it is a stronger IP system,” Mr. Tang said. A successful result would also deliver a much-needed boost to multilateralism, noted Mr. Tang, as he added that “Over the next two weeks, our responsibility is therefore not just to WIPO and the IP community, but also to a world whose eyes are upon us.”
About Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO):
The Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO) is responsible for the protection and promotion of intellectual property rights in Liberia. LIPO supports national development by fostering innovation, creativity, and the equitable exploitation of intellectual assets.

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