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SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY (SPC) Nouméa, New Caledonia Suva, Fiji Islands

PRESS RELEASE June 27, 2002 Nouméa, New Caledonia


Leading legal experts in the Pacific are meeting this week to review a framework to protect traditional knowledge and expressions of culture.

The regional framework is comprised of regional policy guidelines, a sui generis (of its own kind) model law, and explanatory notes.

The meeting, jointly organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is facilitated by the chair of Te Waka Toi, Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand and member of the Council of Pacific Arts, Ms. Elizabeth Aroha Ellis.

Other leading Pacific women at the meeting include SPC's Cultural Affairs Advisor Rhonda Griffiths, Tonga's Senior Crown Counsel Linda Folaumoetui, Vanuatu's Legal Officer for State Law Angelyne Saul and the Forum Secretariat's International Legal Advisor, Andie Fong Toy.

The meeting is taking a working group approach, allowing country representatives to review a comprehensive draft of a Regional Framework for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture.

The regional framework is a response to calls from Pacific nations concerned about how to deal with increasing exploitation of their traditional knowledge and expressions of culture.

"This framework takes both a positive and defensive approach; it not only restricts exploitation but encourages appropriate commercialization," says Griffiths.

"The model law complements existing intellectual property legislation and creates new community rights for Pacific Islands countries."

The first meeting, held three years ago, highlighted the need for legal protection for Pacific Islands culture and defined common elements of Pacific Islands heritage.

Discussions this week will also take into account developments taking place at the international level and focus on a way forward.

For additional information: Rhonda Griffiths SPC Cultural Affairs Advisor Email: 

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