ACP-EU resolution on biodiversity & envt (2 of 2)

by GRAIN | 5 Oct 1998
TITLE: ACP-EU Joint Assembly Resolution on "Biodiversity & the Environment" (2/2) AUTHOR: Africa, Caribbean, Pacific - European Union Joint Parliamentarian Assembly, Brussels, 21-24 September 1998 DATE: 24 September 1998 SOURCE: ACP-EU 2503/98/fin URL:

ACP-EU 2503/98/fin.


Adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Assembly on 24 September 1998 in Brussels (Belgium)

The ACP-EU Joint Assembly,

meeting in Brussels (Belgium) from 21 to 24 September 1998,

A. recognising that biological diversity is the mainstay and source of livelihood for the majority of the population in Africa, and that Africa is particularly rich in biological resources in the form of diverse crops and medicinal plants and immense wildlife resources,

B. recognising that biological resources have been maintained and nurtured by generations of Africa's local and indigenous communities, in particular rural communities such as farmers, hunter gatherers and local healers whose very existence has almost exclusively been dependent on such resources,

C. noting that the bulk of biological diversity and the knowledge and technologies of how to use it is found in the local and indigenous communities of the South. The poor and hitherto marginalised people of the world have in recent decades, therefore, come to figure as the most important players in many biological resources based sectors world wide, and in particular, developing countries,

D. having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) signed by 150 States in 1992 and which came into force in 1993, currently adhered to by 170 nations, which is responding to the increasing recognition of the great contribution of local and indigenous communities to the conservation, maintenance and sustainable use of the world's biological resources,

E. recalling that the CBD requires signatories to protect and promote the rights of communities, farmers and indigenous peoples with respect to their biological resources and knowledge systems, as well as the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the commercial use of communities' biological resources and local knowledge, and asserts that intellectual property rights must not conflict with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,

F. having regard to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) which came into force on 1 January 1995 as a result of the last round of GATT negotiations, and also gave rise to the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), sets up the first global system of intellectual property rights on biological diversity, and specifically plant varieties,

G. noting that TRIPs obliges member countries to adopt either patents or an effective sui generis (unique) IPR system for plant varieties at a national level (Article 27,3(b)) which must be implemented by developing countries by the year 2000 and in least-developed countries by the year 2005 respectively,

I. noting that TRIPs was expressly designed to ensure that intellectual property rights could be universally applied to all technologies, especially those which had previously been declared unsuitable for monopoly rights at the national level, which include pharmaceutical products and biological materials such as plants and micro organisms, all of which must now be subject to private property rights by IPRs,

J. concerned that as a result of TRIPs obligations that the majority of developing countries will need to provide some form of intellectual monopoly rights on food and medicinal biodiversity for the first time, that farmers' access to diversity, their choice of planting material and options for management systems will be significantly impaired, and their rights to save and exchange seed will be legally restricted, if

not prohibited, because of protections granted only to the interests of monopoly holders,

K. further concerned that corporations will be able to secure legal ownership of the world's biodiversity which contain genetic information obtained from the South's farmers' own field, which they then sell back to them for enormous profits, that biodiversity and associated community knowledge systems sought to be protected by the CBD and which form the basis of the adaptability of agriculture, will be lost and food security and agricultural innovation will severely decline,

L. whereas Article 27,3(b) of the TRIPs agreement will be reviewed in 1999, and this means the obligation to provide patent or sui generis rights on plant varieties can be removed before member countries are obliged to implement it, providing the opportunity to remove this obligation from the WTO framework,

M. believing that, in order to ensure the world's biodiversity is protected, conserved and sustainably utilised for the survival and well-being of the vast majority of the human population of nation states that is, the local communities and indigenous peoples which constantly keep adapting, generating and regenerating these biological resources, knowledge, and technologies for present and future generations,

1 Affirms the basic assumption that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is based on the sovereign rights of States and the rights and empowerment of local communities which inspired the CBD from the outset;

2. Urges the full development of the CBD as an international instrument to ensure the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, based on community control of resources and the sovereign rights of States to determine access to such resources;

3. Calls on the recognition and affirmation of the precedence of the CBD over any other international agreement on matters related to biological diversity;

4. Urgently calls for the 1999 review of Article 27,3(b) of the TRIP Agreement to take into account the objectives and provisions of the CBD and to maintain the option of excluding all life forms and related knowledge from IPR protection;

5. Calls on the implementation of TRIP's Agreement, insofar as it concerns biological resources, be supportive and not run counter to the objectives of the CBD;

6. Instructs its Co-Presidents to forward this resolution to the ACP-EU Council, the Commission, the WTO and the secretariat of the CBD.

Author: GRAIN
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