An international treaty on protecting folklore would be complex, unnecessary, damaging

IPA Secretary General Jens Bammel has warned of the dangers of introducing a new international treaty on traditional knowledge and folklore, saying it runs contrary to publishing realities and society's best interests.

Speaking at a three day WIPO conference on traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore in Geneva, Mr Bammel said “the debate on traditional knowledge has been oversimplified in Geneva. It does not reflect a reality where collaboration between publishers and indigenous peoples works well and where a number of different mechanisms have developed to ensure the interests of indigenous people are respected.

“The problem we face is not that there is too much publishing of traditional knowledge, or too many books that record oral history but far too few. Publishing cannot preserve and promote cultural diversity where there is too little incentive to do so, or where obstacles are stacked up against them, where the efforts of indigenous consultation are preventative or where new government bureaucracies need to be appeased.”

“On the other hand there are a growing number of examples where the inclusion of indigenous peoples cultural expression and knowledge, whether in textbooks, research journals or in trade books, is well managed. We need more sharing of those best practices, rather than hope that an international treaty can address these real and practical concerns.”

“IPA applauds WIPO's efforts to share such knowledge in conferences such as this one.”

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