Universiteit Leiden

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Centre for Indigenous Americas Studies

Indigenous cultural heritage and intellectual property

Challenges for the protection of traditional knowledge and genetic resources, traditional cultural expressions, and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in the international scenario.


The misappropriation and misuse of traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions, preserved, created and improved by indigenous peoples and local communities around the world raises conflicts within and outside the territories of indigenous peoples and local communities. The search of different sectors of the industry for new sources of profit, without respecting rights or geographical borders is a constant target of denunciations in the media, lawsuits and conflicts of law between the creators and the holders of intellectual property rights on this cultural patrimony. The traditional intellectual property system faces questions about the legality and legitimacy of intellectual property rights granted without free, prior and informed consent, and without the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from its commercial use with the peoples and communities that created them. In this scenario there is the discussion on the future creation of one or more international instruments, whose objective should be to ensure the effective and balanced protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. This thesis project deals with the great challenge of how one can combat and eradicate biopiracy by incorporating the rights of indigenous peoples into the intellectual property system

People involved

PhD Candidate Lucia Fernanda Inacio Belfort Sales

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