A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Matthew Rimmer
Chapter 1: The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: a human rights framework for intellectual property rights
After more than 20 years of negotiations and confrontations in various United Nations (UN) human rights fora, in September 2007 the world’s Indigenous peoples could celebrate the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007, a historic document which reflects the legal regime concerning Indigenous rights at the international level. The question of culture enjoys a prominent position in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007. Indeed it is precisely the cultural distinctiveness of Indigenous peoples – coupled with their willingness to preserve it – that makes them particularly different from other sub-State groups. Emphasising the fact that Indigenous peoples’ culture has both an encompassing and spiritual significance, the concept of ‘cultural heritage’ has often been used to refer to everything that belongs to the distinct identity of an Indigenous people. Cultural heritage is closely connected with the history, culture and identity of an Indigenous people and manifests itself in various domains, including traditional knowledge and practices, literary works, musical expressions, performances, rituals and social practices; it is transmitted from generation to generation, and is constantly recreated by Indigenous peoples in response to changes in their environment and their interaction with nature as well as their history.