FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who are ‘Indigenous Peoples’?
  2. What is ‘Intellectual Property Policy’?
  3. Why do Indigenous peoples need a project on Intellectual Property Policy?
  4. What is ‘Misappropriation’? What is ‘Bio-Piracy’?
  5. Do Indigenous Peoples have special rights?
  6. Does Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra speak for all indigenous peoples?
  7. How do you say “Call of the Earth” in other indigenous languages?
  8. Can I use material from Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra’s website?
  9. How can I contact Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra?

1. Who are ‘Indigenous Peoples’?

The term ‘Indigenous Peoples’ has different meanings in various national legal systems, as well as in various international instruments and among indigenous peoples themselves. It is sometimes contrasted with ‘local communities’, as in the case of the Convention on Biological Diversity, or ‘Tribal Peoples’ as in the case of the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, 1989.

The ILO Convention, for example, defines Indigenous Peoples as ‘Peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present state boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions’ (ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, 1989 [No. 169, art. 1.1(a)).The fundamental criterion for identification as indigenous (for a group or individual) according to the ILO convention, is self-identification (ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, 1989 [No. 169] art 1.2).

The presence of specific cultural histories, identification with and connection to a particular location pre-colonization and self-identification as indigenous are elements common to definitions in a number of national jurisdictions. For indigenous peoples themselves, self-identification is often viewed as a primary and sometimes sole, requirement of recognition as an indigenous person.

Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra notes that the current international intellectual property regime affects many minority and disadvantaged peoples in ways similar to its affect on indigenous peoples. However, given the distinct histories, cultures and position of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights in laws and custom, it is appropriate that analysis and advocacy be devoted to addressing the specific needs and interests of indigenous peoples.

2. What is ‘Intellectual Property Policy’?

Intellectual Property Policy, for the purpose of Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra, concerns all policy and law, at local, national, regional and international levels, whose effect is to regulate access to, and use of, intangible assets.

Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra concerns itself with intellectual property policy in order to ensure that the intangible cultural heritage of indigenous peoples is characterised and controlled in ways consistent with the cultural values and norms of indigenous peoples, as defined by indigenous peoples themselves.

Thus, processes relevant to Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra may range, for example, from discussions on intellectual property rights at the World Intellectual Property Organization and World Trade Organization, to discussions on access and benefit sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity, to discussion of intangible cultural heritage in the Human Rights Processes and various policy and legislative development processes and national and regional level, such as frameworks for the recognition of indigenous cultural heritage and indigenous customary law, anti-vilification laws, native title regimes, intellectual property and access and benefit sharing legislation etc.

3. Why do Indigenous peoples need a project on Intellectual Property Policy?

There are two primary reasons why indigenous peoples need a project on intellectual property policy.

The first is that the current international intellectual property rights framework has not prevented the misappropriation and misuse of the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples. On countless occasions, corporations, universities and others have gained intellectual property rights over knowledge and resources sourced from indigenous peoples without consent. Prominent examples of this include the patenting by a United States citizen of a variety of the Ayahuasca vine, used traditionally by indigenous peoples of the amazon, and the patenting of properties of the Hoodia Cactus, used by the San of Southern Africa. The misuse and misappropriation of indigenous cultural expressions, such as costume, artwork, song, dance and stories have also been of concern, as has the patenting of the DNA information and bodily samples of indigenous peoples.

The second reason indigenous peoples need a project on intellectual property policy concerns trends in international policy development. In organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Convention on Biological Diversity, issues relating to the protection of and access to indigenous cultural heritage are being debated, often without the meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples. Meanwhile, international standards are being implemented at national level, directly affecting indigenous communities in ways these communities have had little or no influence in determining.

Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra aims to create the opportunity for indigenous peoples to reflect on their own values and interests and to thus set and pursue their own agenda through inputs to debate at international, regional and local levels and through the development of indigenous designed and driven alternatives.

4. What is ‘Misappropriation’? What is Misuse? What is ‘Bio-Piracy’?

Misappropriation refers to the appropriation of indigenous cultural, genetic or biological resources without the prior informed consent of the indigenous peoples in whose culture the resources originated. ‘Appropriation’ refers to the gaining of proprietary rights over such material. Misuse refers to the inappropriate use of indigenous cultural, genetic or biological resources but does not imply that any proprietary rights have been gained by the person using the resource.

The term ‘Bio-piracy’ generally refers to the situation when a foreigner, such as a corporation or university, gains a patent over resources or information sourced from an indigenous or local community, without prior informed consent and without sharing any of the benefits associated with follow on applications.

5. Do Indigenous Peoples have special rights?

Yes. Indigenous peoples have rights in various instruments and legal precedents in international, regional and national laws that should be taken into account in the development of policy and law that affect them. For further information see our fact sheet on the rights of indigenous peoples.

6. Does Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra speak for all Indigenous peoples?

No. Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra is a group of indigenous people with expertise and experience in intellectual property rights related issues. Though Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra members speak as indigenous people, they do not speak for all indigenous people(s). Rather, members create analysis raising issues that may be important for many indigenous peoples, nations and communities, and implement activities that aim to create the opportunity for indigenous peoples to put their own views forward.

7. How do you say “Call of the Earth” in Other Indigenous Languages?

Please click on the link above for further information.

8. Can I use material from Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra’s website?

Yes, however please see the policy on the use of image and documents section for guidelines on appropriate use.

9. How can I contact Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra?

Please send a message through our contact page.

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