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International Law and Indigenous Knowledge

International Law and Indigenous Knowledge: Intellectual Property, Plant Biodiversity, and Traditional Medicine

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 376
  • Book Info
    International Law and Indigenous Knowledge
    Book Description:

    InInternational Law and Indigenous Knowledge, Chidi Oguamanan argues that Indigenous knowledge has posed a crisis of legitimacy for the intellectual property system that calls for a rethinking of the intellectual property jurisprudence in a cross-cultural direction.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7624-4
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-2)
  6. 1 General Introduction and Overview
    (pp. 3-34)

    In the post- or neo-colonial era, the question of fair and equitable treatment of indigenous peoples remains a subject of international political and legal discourse.¹ The sometimes related experience of all colonized peoples is perhaps the basis of their confrontation or engagement with the dominant culture in a postcolonial dialogue. The dialogue of postcolonialism is an exercise in the critical exploration of the West’s relation to its ‘other,’² conveniently depicted as the non-Western and/or indigenous peoples. Looking back to the times when indigenous peoples (of both the enclave territories³ and in far-flung colonies) were regarded as creatures on the fringe...

  7. 2 Conceptual Perspectives on Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge, Intellectual Property, and the Protection of Indigenous Peoples in International Law
    (pp. 35-73)

    This chapter delineates the concept of biodiversity with emphasis on plant biodiversity, which is central to traditional therapeutic practices. In it, I highlight the holistic nature of indigenous knowledge generally and underscore the importance attached to the ecological order in indigenous world views. I also explore, albeit briefly, the Western approach to natural resource exploitation as supervised by its regime of IPRs and market forces. Because of its emphasis on the economic scale of values, the Western industrial approach to natural resource exploitation and its IPRs have difficulty evaluating indigenous epistemological regimes, which are based on the sanctity of the...

  8. 3 International Law and Traditional Knowledge of Plant-Based Therapy (TKPT)
    (pp. 74-110)

    The previous chapter concludes by establishing that there is an international legal regime with respect to indigenous peoples. This chapter argues that the protection of indigenous knowledge in general is a component of that regime. Specifically, it identifies the concept of traditional medicine or traditional knowledge of plant-based therapy (TKPT) as a component of traditional knowledge and examines the extent to which it is part of the international legal regime on indigenous peoples. This chapter explores the phenomenon of traditional medicine within the texts of some legal and quasi-legal instruments and other policy developments relating to international law on indigenous...

  9. 4 The Sociocultural Context of Traditional Knowledge of Plant-Based Therapy
    (pp. 111-144)

    The preceding chapter examined the juridical basis for the protection of traditional medicine. In order to fully situate the concept of TKPT beyond the juridical paradigm, this chapter explores the sociocultural context of the use of plants in traditional therapy. Unlike in the biomedical context, indigenous use of plants in therapy is not limited to the knowledge of plant therapeutic compounds or active agents. Traditional therapeutic knowledge and practices, especially those relating to the use of plants, constitute a fusion of the therapeutic and pharmaceutical aspects of indigenous medical traditions. Such knowledge forms may not be separated from the sociocultural,...

  10. 5 Intellectual Property Rights and Traditional Knowledge of Plant-Based Therapy: The Filtration of Indigenous Knowledge
    (pp. 145-190)

    Western biomedical practices do not recognize the sociocultural and religious aspects of therapy or the associated belief systems prevailing in indigenous cultures. The biomedical paradigm is a clinical enterprise based on the ‘scientific’ and organismic theories. That model draws a clear distinction between the therapeutic and the pharmaceutical aspects of medical intervention, a distinction that is not made in indigenous therapeutic contexts. Under the biomedical model, medicinal plants are purely utilitarian products from which valuable compounds are extracted, refined, and commodified for the purpose of medical treatment. Under that model also, conceptions of the individual’s relationship with plants and ecological...

  11. 6 Toward a Cross-cultural Dialogue on Intellectual Property Rights
    (pp. 191-222)

    I have underscored the reservations about the ability of conventional intellectual property rights, especially patents, to foster indigenous interests and aspirations. In relation to traditional knowledge of plantbased therapy (TKPT), intellectual property rights, especially the patent regime, is not a reliable mechanism to facilitate the attainment of a number of expectations. A few of those expectations include the preservation of the cultural integrity of indigenous knowledge and by extension the indigenous quest for self-determination, the notion of medical pluralism, and not the least of all biodiversity conservation. By way of conclusion, this chapter explores how some of these objectives can...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 223-302)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 303-336)
  14. Index
    (pp. 337-351)