Article 7 – National Commitments and International Cooperation

Article 7.1 sets out the basic obligations of the Contracting Parties, which are expressed at two levels:

  1. The obligation to integrate activities highlighted in Articles 5 and 6 into national agriculture and rural development policies and programmes; and

  2. The obligation for Contracting Parties to cooperate at the international level in the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA.

The first element mirrors the provisions of Articles 6(b) and 10(a) of the CBD, which call for the integration of the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies and into national decision-making. In this Article of the Treaty, the obligations are more specific in that they refer to specific programme activities and policies with respect to PGRFA that have already been described in Article 5 and 6. The wording of the Article, as with other Articles, is binding, but allows a degree of flexibility by including the qualification “as appropriate”.

The Article recognizes that while the activities specified in Article 5 and 6 are fundamental to the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA, they can only be fully effective if they are integrated into broader agriculture and rural development policies and programmes. Since PGRFA activities involve public and private institutions and companies, non-governmental organizations, communities and individuals from the agriculture, environment and development sectors, the integration of existing PGRFA activities in the framework of a unified national programme provides the opportunity to enhance such diverse efforts within a country.

With respect to the second element, Contracting Parties are required to cooperate with each other in the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA. Cooperation can either be direct, as through bilateral or regional programmes or networks, or through FAO, as for example through FAO-sponsored programmes or activities including those sponsored by the CGRFA. Cooperation can also be through other relevant international organizations, such as IPGRI or other IARCs of the CGIAR, or through the new Global Crop Diversity Trust in respect of ex situ collections.

The two levels of obligation cannot, however, be viewed in isolation. National policies and programmes can promote international cooperation on access to plant genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their use. In turn international cooperation is essential to provide support to national implementation activities, particularly in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Effective national programmes provide a link between in-country activities and those at the regional and global levels.

Article 7.2 highlights some aspects of international cooperation that should be especially targeted, and must be read in conjunction with the basic obligation set out in Article 7.1. The enumeration of priority activities to which international cooperation should be directed, and indeed the whole wording of Article 7.2, is drawn essentially from Article 6 of the International Undertaking. International cooperation in the context of Article 7.2 would include regional cooperation.

Paragraph (a) deals with the need to establish and strengthen the capabilities of developing countries and countries with economies in transition through international cooperation. In this connection, it is to be noted that, unlike the CBD, countries with economies in transition are given special consideration in the same way as developing countries throughout the Treaty. Establishing and strengthening national capabilities is an essential objective of the GPA.

Paragraph (b) deals with international cooperation to enhance international activities relating to various aspects of the conservation, use and exchange of PGRFA. Specific reference is made to the sharing of PGRFA and appropriate information and technology through the Multilateral System established under Part IV of the Treaty.

It is impossible to give an exhaustive list of all international cooperation programmes and activities currently operative, but it may be appropriate to draw attention to some of them. One group would be the activities sponsored by FAO and its CGRFA. A second would be activities currently being operated by the CGIAR Centres. A third category, which will to some extent overlap with the previous two, would be the various networks relating to specific plant genetic resources. Another would be bilateral and regional programmes operated by individual countries or groups of countries. All of these activities will draw on and operate under the umbrella of the rolling GPA. A fifth group would be the Global Crop Diversity Trust set up to provide financial support to ex situ collections. Sixth, the GFAR is mobilizing the scientific community and all stakeholders in Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) to work together to face the new challenges and take advantage of the new opportunities presented by the deep changes that are influencing agricultural research. GFAR is also supporting the development of a multi- stakeholder Global Shared Vision in ARD to focus research at the global level through the activities of the Sub- Regional and Regional Forums, by promoting multi-stakeholder involvement in ARD, innovative research partnerships, and facilitating information and knowledge exchange among ARD stakeholders.

Part V of the Treaty deals with the supporting components to the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA, and covers:

Paragraph (c) recognizes that the goals of the Treaty cannot be achieved without the Contracting Parties' support of the institutional arrangements mentioned in Part V, which, while recognized in the Treaty, exist independently of it.

Box 7. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Traditional Knowledge

Working in co-operation with other international organizations, WIPO provides a forum for international policy debate concerning the interplay between intellectual property (IP) and traditional knowledge, genetic resources, traditional cultural expressions (folklore), and is in the process of attempting to develop a range of practical tools aimed at enhancing the IP interests of the holders of such knowledge, resources and expressions.

In recent years, significant questions have been raised regarding the relationship of the intellectual property system to:

For example, concerns have been raised relating to the misappropriation of TK by third parties, such as the unauthorized use of traditional designs, songs and dances by the entertainment and fashion industries to create works which are then protected by intellectual property.

Furthermore, holders of TK have expressed a need to be better informed of the IP implications of making their TK available to a wider audience; for instance, of using certain distinctive elements of their TK as intellectual property assets that may lead to economic growth.

As the specialized United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of IP worldwide, WIPO has worked in the field of traditional cultural expressions (folklore) for over thirty years, often in collaboration with UNESCO, and has, more recently, considered specific intellectual property issues related to traditional knowledge (TK) and genetic resources.

In particular, in 1998–1999 WIPO consulted with a wide range of stakeholders such as indigenous and local communities, civil society organizations, governmental representatives, academics, researchers and private sector representatives to determine the intellectual property needs and expectations of holders of TK.

In 2000, the WIPO General Assembly agreed to establish a unique intergovernmental body to discuss intellectual property issues related to traditional knowledge, genetic resources, and traditional cultural expressions (folklore). The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), has since met, in Geneva, several times. The primary themes that it would address in the course of its work, beginning with a meeting in April 2001, could include the intellectual property questions raised by:

WIPO's work in this area involves close co-operation with other international organizations. It also involves the organization of a wide range of traditional knowledge-related capacity-building activities, such as the publication of case-studies, and the co-ordination of local, national and regional seminars, workshops and consultations.

Article 18 provides for a funding strategy, the objectives of which are “to enhance the availability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the provision of financial resources to implement activities under the Treaty.” Further analysis of the funding strategy will be found in the commentary to Article 18. The wording of the obligation stated in Paragraph (d) reiterates in a more general context the wording of Article 18.1. Under Article 18.1, the Contracting Parties undertake, jointly and severally, to implement a funding strategy for the implementation of the Treaty in accordance with the provisions of Article 18. The present Article stresses the need for international cooperation in implementing the funding strategy.

< previous section  < index >  next section >