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African Nations Call For Sanctions On Theft Of Traditional Knowledge

A group of African countries has called for a planned international treaty on protecting genetic resources and traditional knowledge to provide for sanctions on companies or countries that infringe its provisions.
“Our group supports adequate sanctions to ensure the treaty is enforced,” the Kenyan representative said in Geneva, speaking on behalf of group on Monday.
The concluding round for a new United Nations treaty has begun in the Swiss city after more than 20 years of talks.
The aim is to conclude the treaty by May 24.
The new treaty aims to prevent what is termed “biopiracy” the theft of genetic resources or traditional knowledge and their use for commercial purposes, such as in medications and health products.
Countries of origin are to share in any profits or receive other compensation.
This was a matter of justice, the Kenyan representative said.
“The African group advocates for an international treaty that recognises and protects the sovereign rights of member states over their traditional knowledge and associated genetic resources,” he said.
The treaty draft provides for companies to indicate when they apply for a patent where the material originates.
Countries of origin can then check whether all the necessary permits have been acquired and participation agreements have been concluded.
No fewer than 1,200 government representatives are participating in the talks of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a UN agency.
WIPO said the future instrument aimed to enhance the efficacy, transparency and quality of the patent system and prevent patents from being granted erroneously.  (dpa/NAN)

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