Chapter 13: Human rights as a contraint on intellectual property rights: the case of patent and plant variety protection rights, genetic resources and traditional knowledge
13. Human rights as a constraint on intellectual property rights: the case of patent and plant variety protection rights, genetic resources and traditional knowledge Charles R. McManis* One of the great questions of our time is how to promote global economic development, while at the same time preserving the local biological and cultural diversity of ‘this fragile earth, our island home.’1 The international debate over how to reconcile these two seemingly conflicting goals has increasingly focused on the interplay among three international agreements that have entered into force during the past 15 years.2 * Thomas & Karole Green Professor of Law and Director, Intellectual Property & Technology Law Program, Washington University School of Law. 1 Book of Common Prayer 370 (1977). 2 The international agreements relevant to the legal protection of TK, which is the principal focus of this chapter, range from those that are essentially aspirational in character to those that impose concrete legal obligations backed by international enforcement mechanisms. In the former category are such agreements as the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which entered into force in 1976, the International Labor Organization’s Convention (No. 169) concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, which entered into force in 1991, and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which entered into force in 1993, and is the first international agreement to make explicit reference to the protection of traditional knowledge. For a discussion of the first two treaties, see below note 24 and accompanying text. For a discussion...
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