Indigenous Peoples have rights over their traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and genetic resources (GRs), including associated intellectual property rights, as recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 31. However, Indigenous Peoples’ intellectual property rights do not comfortably fit within, and often lack protection under, conventional intellectual property laws. In the absence of effective legal recognition and protection, Indigenous Peoples’ intangible cultural heritage is often treated as being in the “public domain” and misappropriation of their intellectual property is widespread and ongoing.
International Processes & Initiatives
Every year IWGIA reports on the situation of Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Our global report, The Indigenous World, documents the state of Indigenous Peoples' rights in countries on all continents with detailed country reports authored by distinguished experts, Indigenous activists and scholars.
It is IWGIA's hope that Indigenous Peoples and their organisations will find our reports useful in their advocacy work, and that a wider audience will use our information on Indigenous Peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World has been published every year since 1986.
This section focuses on International Processes and Initiatives which have a special focus on Indigenous Peoples.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding member states: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Myanmar later joined, making ASEAN a 10 member state institution.
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the main international intergovernmental body devoted exclusively to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. It plays a crucial role in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality in which women throughout the world live, and drafting international standards on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the ACHPR) was established in accordance with Article 30 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a mandate to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights on the continent. It was officially inaugurated on 2nd of November 1987 and is the premier human rights monitoring body of the African Union (AU). In 2001, the ACHPR established a Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa (the WGIP), marking a milestone in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in Africa.
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 Member States established in 1951. Its legislative and executive powers are divided between the EU’s three main institutions: the European Parliament (co-legislative authority - EP), the Council of the European Union (co-legislative and executive authority - CoEU) and the European Commission (executive authority - CE). In addition, the EU has its own diplomatic service: the European External Action Service (with EU “embassies” throughout the world).
The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council composed of seven independent members, one from each of the seven indigenous sociocultural regions: Africa; Asia; the Arctic; Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; Central and South America and the Caribbean; North America; and the Pacific.