The protection of traditional knowledge: challenges and possibilities arising from the protection of biodiversity in South Africa
Dountio, Ofimboudem Joelle
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Traditional Knowledge (TK) is the long standing wisdom, teachings and practices of indigenous communities which have been passed on orally, in the majority of cases, from generation to generation. TK is expressed in the form, medicine, agriculture, understanding of the ecology, music, dance, stories, folklore, poetry, spiritual, cultural and artistic expressions, and knowledge relating to bio-diversity. This thesis focuses on plant bio-diversity, as part of TK, and the problem of bio-piracy. We attempt a definition of TK; its characteristics; possible measures that can be taken to ensure its protection; and challenges that are likely to be faced in seeking to ensure its protection, first at the global level, then with particular attention to South Africa. Some of the suggested measures include the enactment of sui generis laws to protect plant biodiversity, rather that the adaptation of the existing IP regime. Some of the challenges include unwillingness of some countries to participate in international initiatives, like the US, which is not even a signatory of the CBD, and the difficulty of identifying the persons in whom ownership of the TK should be vested when it is possessed by many communities.