An (un)common remedy to Indigenous communities’ subsistence: revisiting Traditional Knowledge Commons
Christos ZoisResearcher of the Jean Monnet Project ‘EU Responsibility in the International System [EURIS]’

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Vassilis PergantisAssistant Professor in International Law, Law Faculty, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and Academic Co-ordinator of the Jean Monnet Project ‘EU Responsibility in the International System [EURIS]’

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Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITK) has been at the centre of heated debates about patent and intellectual protection for a long time. Efforts to normatively regulate the protection of ITK are imbued by a property-based logic associated most prominently with intellectual property regimes, which focus primarily on its economic value. However, such an approach collides with the spiritual, cultural and sacred character of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge. This article aims to provide an alternative for ITK protection through the revamping of the Traditional Knowledge Commons (TKC) concept. It elucidates those TKC traits beneficial to Indigenous communities and identifies potential challenges associated with TKC implementation. The article highlights instances of successfully enacted TKC as evidence of the economic and social capacity of such communitarian schemes, which can further empower Indigenous communities. Lastly, the article explores the viability of establishing a commons-alike ITK management regime on a global scale given the divergent views and aspirations both of communities providing ITK and potential ITK users.

Contributor Notes

MA (cand.) in International Law (Geneva Graduate Institute), LLB, LLM in International and European Legal Studies (Public International Law) (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki). Email:

PhD, DEA (Graduate Institute, Geneva), LLM, LLB (Aristotle University, Thessaloniki). Email:

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