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Intellectual and Cultural Property Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Asia

22 May 2003

Indigenous and tribal peoples worldwide are faced with the appropriation of their collective heritage developed through the ages. Their traditional songs and designs are being commercialized for the tourist industry, and their traditional knowledge of crops and medicinal plants is being appropriated by multinational companies, often without any recompense, a phenomenon which has come to be known as ‘biopiracy’.

This report looks at efforts by the United Nations and governments to protect this heritage from exploitation, the pressures on governments to allow the exploitation of indigenous knowledge, and the effects of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights Agreement on indigenous peoples’s intellectual property rights.

The many initiatives taken by Asian indigenous and tribal peoples to protect their heritage are also discussed, and some strategies for the future are put forward in the Conclusion.

Download (PDF, English)


Michael A. Bengwayan