By Patricia Brun. 

For some time now, and auspiciously with increasing interest, measures have been taken for the protection and ethical and sustainable exploitation of the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and local communities, of their traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions (folklore), through the Intellectual Property tools or sui generis law proposals. 

We know, for example, that WIPO, through the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), has been promoting negotiations with its member states with a view to finalizing one or more international legal instruments to effectively protect the rights that correspond to local and indigenous communities. 

Although to date an international legal instrument has not yet been finalized, either in the form of a recommendation or a treaty that binds the WIPO member countries that decide to ratify it, WIPO also supports with assistance and advice to the countries to strengthen national systems and so far there are already several countries that have granted protection to these rights through special national laws, although certainly with territorial scope. 

All these efforts aim to achieve a better protection of these rights to prevent the misappropriation of, for example, traditional medicine, environmental knowledge, art and music of these communities, empowering them to control their commercial exploitation and obtain collective benefit therefrom.  

In Paraguay, there is currently no specific legislation that provides Intellectual Property protection to the rights over traditional cultural expressions (folklore) and traditional knowledge of indigenous people and local communities. However, in the law that created the National Directorate of Intellectual Property in 2012, it was established as one of its functions to promote the recognition and use of indigenous traditional knowledge, in favor of indigenous peoples. Likewise, in 2016, Law No. 5621/2016 for the Protection of Cultural Heritage was enacted, which includes among the Cultural Heritage assets the expressions, traditions and knowledge of local communities and indigenous people. Although it does not contain specific provisions on protection of these rights through Intellectual Property tools, it establishes among its purposes to promote the creation of a national system for the protection of cultural heritage. As a result of these provisions, an inter-institutional Work Team has recently been formed, between the National Secretariat of Culture and the National Directorate of Intellectual Property, which is working on the design of the Public Policy for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities from the Intellectual Property perspective. We hope that this work team can soon make its actions tangible in an adequate regulatory framework to protect this valuable knowledge. 

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