UN Intellectual Property Agency Adopts Historic Global Treaty on Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge

May 30, 2024
UN intellectual property agency

In a landmark decision, the United Nations’ intellectual property agency has ratified the first-ever global treaty aimed at regulating intellectual property rights concerning genetic resources and traditional knowledge. This monumental agreement represents a significant step forward in addressing longstanding issues of equity, sovereignty, and cultural heritage.


Background: The treaty comes in response to mounting concerns over the exploitation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, particularly by corporations and entities from developed countries. Indigenous communities and developing nations have long advocated for stronger protections to safeguard their cultural heritage and ensure fair compensation for the commercial use of their resources.


Key Provisions:

  • The treaty establishes a framework for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
  • It provides guidelines for the protection of indigenous intellectual property rights and promotes collaboration between indigenous communities, governments, and other stakeholders.
  • The agreement includes mechanisms for obtaining prior informed consent and ensuring mutually agreed terms for accessing and utilizing genetic resources and traditional knowledge.


Significance: The adoption of this treaty marks a significant milestone in global efforts to address the complex intersection of intellectual property rights, biodiversity conservation, and cultural preservation. By recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities over their traditional knowledge and genetic resources, the international community is taking concrete steps towards fostering greater equity and inclusivity in the global innovation landscape.



  • The treaty is expected to have far-reaching implications for the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and traditional medicine, where the commercialization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge is prevalent.
  • It sets a precedent for future international agreements aimed at promoting sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, and the protection of indigenous rights.
  • The treaty underscores the importance of collaboration and dialogue between different stakeholders, including governments, indigenous communities, and the private sector, in shaping inclusive and equitable policies.

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